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We believe dogs can maintain their strength throughout their lives and that the natural deterioration that happens due to ageing can be mitigated to a large extent. You can help your canine companion live a healthy and vital life just by practicing easy movement challenges.
Sit to Stand is a standard command that is often taught in basic obedience classes. It is useful tool for grooming, for vet visits and as it turns out, for improving hind end strength. Sit to Stand for a dog is equivalent to a squat for a human. If you want to improve their hind end strength, work the sit to stand.
When performing a sit to stand, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, when a dog performs a sit, their back legs should fold or tuck under them. Secondly, there should not be a lot of movement at the shoulders when performing a sit. The hind end should drop down and the upper body should remain upright and still. Finally, when moving from a sit to a stand, the movement should come from the hips, not the shoulders. When moving into a standing position, watch the dog doesn't walk forward with the front legs, but instead, lifts their hips up in space.
In the first video, Jasper performs a sit to stand from the floor. This is the safest and easiest method. He performs his sits very well. His back legs fold under as he lowers to the floor. When he does his stand, the first one he performs is great, his front legs hardly move. In his second attempt you can see that his front legs walk forward a little bit. This is not terrible, it just takes the focus away from the hips which is where you want the work to come from.
To practice this skill, the handler should pay attention to their position relative to the dog. If you are too far forward, the dog will naturally walk towards you. Start standing just forward of the dog's head so that they will almost bump into you when they stand up - when you work with your dog you will find the right distance for the two of you, it is a bit like a dance and you have to work together to find just the right position for your partner. Choose the rate at which you reward your dog as well. They do not have to be treated for every movement. A verbal reward is often enough as you go through the work.
In the second video, Jasper is being challenged to perform sit to stand on a raised platform. Please note this is very challenging to complete and should be undertaken with caution. Choose a platform that is big enough for the dog - the box Jasper is standing on is a bit small for his large frame and you can see that he hunches his body to make it fit. Ensure the surface is non-slip and there is no risk of falling. We always want our dogs to experience success so be sure to set up your environment with this in mind.
The first rep that Jasper completes is not as fluid or confident as the second and third rep. He is getting accustomed to being on the box and trying to fit his big body to the small space. His proprioception is challenged as he is learning to judge where his body is at in space. It is an invaluable lesson for him to learn. As a big dog, the more body awareness he can have the better. It helps him understand where he ends and I begin so he is less likely to run into me or jump on me.
All dogs lose muscle mass as they age. Practicing sit to stand is just like performing a squat. Doing five sit to stands at a time, a few days a week can go a long way to keeping your dog fit and strong. The added bonus of any of this work? You foster a stronger relationship with your dog. Give it a try, see how you get on.
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.
Photo Credit for cover image @daisydoodlethegoldendoodle
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