Updated: Feb 2
As agility handlers, we spend a huge portion of our time taking care of and training our dogs. Buying them the best food, ensuring they have the right tug and even buying them the best beds and coats. But we often forget the importance of a good warm-up and cool down.
In this blog, we will cover the 3 most important components of a warm-up and cool down for agility dogs in the UK.
Now it’s easily done and I think we are all guilty of scrimping on our warm-ups and cool-downs from time to time especially when we’ve missed the start of our class at a competition or we’re running late to training or from training to work!
But our dog’s warm-ups and cool-downs are essential in ensuring they stay fit and injury-free.
Why are warm-ups so important?
As we warm our dogs up we are increasing their body temperature, this means that all their muscles and soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments are warmer and can stretch further. This extra stretch not only means that our dogs can take a larger stride to cover more ground making them quicker against the clock but it also means that they are less likely to injure their muscles or soft tissues.
But increasing our dog’s body temperature has another key function too, it increases the quantity of blood full of oxygen and nutrients that reach our dog’s muscles. This oxygen and nutrients are the fuel for our dogs and just like our cars and vans without fuel they’re not going anywhere.
So what are the best warm-up exercises for agility dogs in the UK?
Now we all know most of the time it’s freezing so warm-ups are going to be super important for us here in the UK. If your dog has a short coat you may choose to complete their warm-up with a fleece or coat on, especially in winter to give them a head start.
You can also use a gentle massage to begin to warm your dog’s muscles before any physical activity.
The best place to start with any physical warm-up is with your dog walking on the lead. This allows your dog’s body temperature to rise enough before anything more strenuous. Once your dog’s body temperature has increased you can start including some faster work, but refrain from ball throwing not only does this increase your dog’s risk of injury but it will also encourage them to run flat and risks more knocked poles.
Now your dogs warm you can focus on other areas. Your dog’s joints need to be able to move through a full range of motion in order for them to be successful. A great way to ensure this is to use tricks to warm up your dog’s joints. Bonus they also help activate their muscles too! My favourites are paw to lift up each limb, beg and spin.
What about cool-downs?
Cool-downs are the key to a speedy recovery between classes of training days. They allow your dog to repair any tiny tiny injuries before they become an issue and leave them best prepared for your next session.
The best place to get started is with your reward! A great game of tug or a throw of the ball lets your dog know they’ve done and its time to cool down. Over time if you stick to the same routine your dog will anticipate the cool-down and start to relax and slow on their own.
Once your dogs cooled slightly you can do their stretches. If you’ve never stretched your dog before booking a session with your local physio so they can help you choose the correct stretches for your dog and show you how to perform them is a must. You can book in with us here (www.fitpetphysio.com/book-online-1)
Then you can complete your cool-down with another massage. This not only helps your dogs relax but also works out any lasting tiny injuries or strains before your next class.
So now you know the 3 most important steps of your warm-up and cool-downs you’ll never be caught short again. But these aren’t the only things you can include nor should they if you want a full warm-up and cool-down routine check out our ‘What no one tells you about warm-ups and cool-downs’ webinar.
What do you need to know before downloading our ‘What no one tells you about warm-ups and cool-downs’ webinar?
You’ll need a good understanding of how to trick train your dog and an idea of how and when your dog performs best.
But other than that you’ll give you everything you need to master your dogs warm-up and cool down right here.