About three years ago my young, sweet and rambunctious agility dog Quinn and I were getting ready to compete in our first AAC Regional Championship. Around the same time, I started my canine rehabilitation business and life suddenly became very, very busy. As a result, something had to give and my consistent conditioning program suddenly became something I did every now and then. Have you heard the proverb "the shoemaker's children go barefoot?" that was me and my dogs. I was so busy helping others with their conditioning work that I started to overlook my own dog's conditioning.
You’re not you when you're hurting and the same is true for your dog!
Pain places both discomfort and emotional stress on our dogs and can make them out of balance both psychologically and physiologically. Pain can be acute or chronic and knowing the difference can really affect the way you go about addressing the situation.
Recognizing pain is an important first step! So how do we recognize pain in an animal that has thousands of years of survival instinct screaming at it to pretend like nothing is wrong?
Have you ever noticed your dog preferring one side over another? It may come as a surprise but just like people dogs also have a left/right preference. A dog's brain is similarly organized like a human brain, meaning that the two hemispheres of the brain also have areas of specialization which can determine "handedness" or "laterality". In dog sport and canine physio we refer to your dog's preference as the lead leg.
So why does knowing if your dog has right or left lead leg matter and how can it affect our dog's performance in sport?