Standing endurance is an exercise in the canine gym that I incorporate with all dogs. It has MANY benefits for your dog, and selecting the proper equipment is critical to maximizing the physical benefits of this exercise.
What is Standing Endurance?
Standing endurance is when your dog stands in a natural stacked position on different pieces of equipment while you move around your dog imposing various weight-shifting challenges. Meaning, your dog stands in position while you move around them in different directions. See, dogs are well-balanced when their heads are forward and looking ahead. The minute your dog starts to track and follow you (through head movements), they have to engage their core and stabilizing muscles while they weight-shift to maintain balance. The further behind your dog you go, the more challenging it becomes for them to maintain their balance. This weight-shifting behaviour is what activates and strengthens your dog’s core and stabilizing muscles in their front and hind end and spine.
What does a natural stack position look like?
For this exercise, the long-term goal is to have your dog stand and find balance on unstable pieces of equipment, which will activate the desired muscles. However, before introducing any balance challenge (through the use of unstable equipment), it is important to train your dog to build value for holding and maintaining this standing position with no front or hind paw movement while their head moves in different directions. It takes time for your dog to understand the exercise criteria of no paw movement but also time for your dog to develop the necessary strength to maintain the balance required while you impose various weight shifting challenges. To maximize early success, it is recommended that you start your dog on stable pieces of equipment.
Here are a few challenges you can attempt to do with your dog:
When executing any of the challenges, always evaluate if your dog is adhering to the exercise criteria. If they are, GREAT - continue to add challenges. If they aren't, make the challenge easier OR change the equipment.
As I have said before, equipment is our tool to obtain the correct form and posture, which helps us achieve our goals in the canine gym of symmetry and balance in our dogs to minimize compensation issues and/or side preferences."
Standing endurance can be worked on either 1 or 2 pieces of equipment. Regardless of how many pieces of equipment you use, you want to ensure your dog’s standing position is what you want! I created a short video that you can watch outlining what equipment you should consider when working this exercise on a SINGLE piece of equipment.
So next time you practice this exercise, what does YOUR preview look like? Do you like how your dog is standing and are they able to maintain the exercise criteria with the challenges presented?
If your dog is not able to find a natural stack position on the equipment you are using or increasing their paw movement, here are 3 TIPS to help gain better form:
1) Use stable pieces of equipment versus unstable
2) Use smaller pieces of equipment (e.g. 2 by 4’s) to minimize paw movement
3) Use two pieces of equipment versus one as you can control their standing position more by how close/far apart you put the pieces of equipment.
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