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Therapeutic exercises – strengthening

Depending on the injury and patient’s condition we will often recommend strengthening exercises, which can be done with the patient standing independently or assisted using a sling or physio-roll.

They are listed from easiest to the most challenging, and should only be done on recommendation.

Canine Single Leg Lifts.                    

Place your dog in a standing position, with all four feet square underneath them, with a flat, straight back. Begin by lifting the front left leg. Then rotate round each leg. Initially each leg should only be lifted for 5 seconds then increase time as recommended. This will help strengthen not only the limbs, but the core stability muscles.

Weight Shifting.

Place your dog in a standing position, with all four feet square underneath them, with a flat, straight back. Starting at the front of the body gently cup your hands one on each side of the body of the shoulder region. Gently rock the patient from side to side, this should be a gentle swaying effect, not enough pressure to lift the feet front the floor. Do this for as long as recommended, and then carry out the same procedure whilst cupping your hands over each hip region. This encourages weight movement, balance and co-ordination.

Pattern Walking.

Initially this must be performed VERY slowly. Walk in either large circles or figures of eight. Have the dog on the lead and try to repeat the exercise with the dog on a short lead on each reign (walking on short lead on each side of you.) Dogs with subtle injury, orthopaedic conditions, neurological conditions and obesity will be challenged by the patterns and changes in directions. The recommendation of stride pattern, repetition and duration must be followed closely.

Diagonal Leg Lifts.

Place you dog in a standing position, with all four feet square underneath them, with a flat, straight back. This exercise is best performed with two people, one to perform the exercise and one to talk to and steady the front end of the dog. Lift the front right leg and left rear leg together, it only needs to be lifted just off the floor, once more advance the limbs can be tucked right up to make the exercise more difficult. Then alternate to lift the other two legs. You must seek permission from the veterinary surgeon or rehabilitation advisor before commencing this exercise, and strictly follow their regime for time duration and repetition.

Cavaletti work.

Cavalettis are straight polls, they can be flat on the ground or raised and can be arranged in various different patterns. A home use for this can be mop or broom handles. Initially lay a collection of approximately 5 polls on the floor, in a straight line with approximately 3-4 ft between each poll. Place your dog on a short lead, slowly walk forward over the polls. This encourage an active range or motion, requires weight bearing on all limbs, and challenges proprioception, balance and co-ordination. Follow the recommendations regarding duration and progression to different heights or patterns. This exercise should only be completed if recommended.

Sit to Stand.

This exercise helps strengthen gluteal and hip muscles, and improves range of motion. Both the sitting and rising are equally important. Use a treat to encourage the dog to sit, once sitting use another treat to get the dog to stand. Each time do not reward until they are in a square even position.