Dog agility has become the fastest growing dog sport in North American and this growing popularity has led to more research into the physical demands and potential injuries that can occur in the sport. Of all the sports our dogs can compete in, dog agility, is one of the most physically demanding. Dogs are moving at faster speeds than ever before and having to navigate more challenging courses, more complex jumping skills and difficult contact and weave approaches. With these faster speeds and varied physical challenges, the potential for injury can increase.
In this week’s blog we review some exciting and new research that has come to light about the sport of agility and discuss how this research applies to our dogs, our training, and competition.
Do you know the best way to treat an injury is to prevent it from happening in the first place? Whenever we do ANY physical activity with our dogs there is a certain amount of risk we take on. Accidents happen, but that doesn't mean we can't be proactive and help to reduce our dog’s chances of getting hurt. So, what can we do as their training partners and biggest advocates to reduce their chance of injury?
In our previous blogs breaking down the sport of agility we took a look at the physical demands and the potential injuries that can occur in the sport. While the physical demands of the sport are high and the injuries our dogs can experience can be frightening, we can still do a lot to prevent an injury from occurring! In Part Three of our agility sport breakdown we take a closer look at injury prevention strategies and the simple things we can do NOW to help our dogs avoid getting hurt in order to enjoy a long sporting career. Let’s take a look at my top injury prevention tips for the agility dog.
In any sport our dogs compete and train in there is always a potential for injury. The sport of agility, however, has a high degree of physical challenge and with that also comes a higher risk of injury. As a canine physio, my personal view is that an active lifestyle far outweighs the potential risk of an injury. One key part of injury prevention is becoming aware of the potential injuries your dog may experience in their sport as well as aspects of the sport (e.g. certain movements or obstacles) that are known to cause more strain on the dog’s body. Knowing the potential injuries of the sport means we can better prepare our dogs to avoid injuries and begin to recognize the signs and symptoms of an injury while it’s still in the early stages. This is critical as it’s not always obvious that our dogs are hurt or injured. With any high drive sport, particularly in agility, it is often very subtle signs that point towards an injury rather than something obvious or dramatic (e.g. severe limp). Our dogs have a lot of heart and love for the game and slowing down (due to pain or discomfort) does not come naturally to them. When their adrenaline is spiked, these dogs can push through anything! Although this may be desirable from a performance standpoint, it is can make injury identification far harder!!
In Part Two of the Agility Sport Breakdown, we will review the obstacles and movements that cause more strain on the agility dog and then review potential injuries and the common signs and symptoms of these injuries.