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Building Hip & Shoulder Strength in Your Dog

Keeping your canine companion strong and agile through their lifetime is important for overall health and vitality. Yes walking your dog helps keep your dog in good physical shape but as dogs age, they lose muscle mass just like humans. To keep them strong and capable throughout their life, you can add a few movement challenges.

Pivoting is an example of a great movement challenge that challenges hip strength, shoulder strength and lateral movement. It also challenges the dog to develop their movement sense so they become more aware of their bodies in space and how to control them. As you work in both directions, you strengthen both sides of the body, possibly adjusting for imbalances (if they exist).

Jasper practices pivot quite a bit so he knows what he is doing. When a dog first learns this skill, they made need a little bit more guidance. First and foremost when performing any movement challenge with our dog is safety. You bear the responsibility of keeping your dog safe through any of the exercise you ask of them. Please remember we are working to strengthen our dogs to help them live full lives, not to put them at risk of injury.

Step One is to get the dog to put his front paws up on an object. The object should be round (preferable), non-slip and at an easy height for the dog. A Bosu works great for Jasper as he is a large dog but you could also use a tire or any other round object. If you were working with a small dog you want to choose an object that is sized appropriately to their body.

Step Three is to reward once you make it all the way around the object. You can either continue in the same direction or you can reverse directions, placing the treat slightly behind your left side and moving counter clockwise.

You may notice your dog has an easier time in one direction than the other. You could choose to do the more challenging direction more often that the easy direction. You could start in the more challenging direction. This helps to build strength where there might be weakness and/or build body awareness and skill. Dogs will often have a preferred direction and it is very normal and not a sign that something is wrong.

Have fun with pivot. Change up the object - using a tire instead of a Bosu makes the pivot different and possibly more challenging. Pivoting could be done while out on your walk - find a low tree stump or even a manhole cover and pivot around it. Choosing different environments really helps to cement the movement challenge, build strength and build overall confidence in the dog.

Disclaimer: All movement challenges should be done safely and without risk to the dog or human. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this website. Never rely on information on this website in place of seeking professional medical advice.

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