To summarize briefly, the musculature (ours as well as our dogs’) is made up of two categories: the deep muscles and superficial muscles.
Deep muscles (or short muscles)
Small and close to the joints, they maintain the anatomy in place and play a balancing role in the anatomy. They are built and reinforced when we make slow and controlled movements. In human gymnastics, yoga and pilates are perfect examples of exercises that are suitable for deep muscles development, just like walking at a moderate pace.
Superficial muscles (or long muscles)
They have mainly a mobility role (dynamic and amplitude). They are larger muscles and are visible under the skin (therefore more distant from the joints).
The construction of muscles, for an optimal result, must be done from the inside (deep muscles close to the joints) towards the outside (superficial muscles visible under the skin). Until our dog has reached physical maturity (12 to 24 months depending on the breed), it is important to focus on quiet activities, slow and controlled movements. Activities involving fast movements, race or jumps should not be considered before adulthood.
Fetching games (throwing a toy again and again, expecting our dog to fetch it) are extremely physically demanding (and emotionally), and are therefore to be avoided throughout the life of our dog. Our role is to provide our dog with games that protect him from injury or fatigue and build him a healthy and serene life.
Remember that the skeleton of our dog does not include clavicle. His spine is thus connected to the scapula (upper bone of the front legs) by muscles and tendons only. It is therefore essential, before any physical activity, to allow our dog to warm up his musculature. Two options are available to us: About ten minutes of massage or quiet and slow walking.
Warm up by massage
A warm-up massage is done maximum 20 minutes before any physical activity. A second massage can be performed after the physical activity, in order to eliminate the different toxins of the muscular mass and to avoid muscular soreness due to the physical exercises (within 2 hours after the end of the physical activity).
Warm up by slow walk
We are obviously not talking about agility which is an activity that includes jumps, propulsions and landings, at high speed. We are rather talking about a slow-moving path, climbing a very gentle inclined surface, crossing over ground bars or bypassing tires 4 to 5 meters apart.
We will choose the obstacles carefully, depending on the physical condition of our dog. Are we talking about a young or an old dog, a sick or injured dog, a healthy dog in the prime of life?
Let us stay alert to the evolution of the physical condition of our dogs. A dog does not become an “old dog” overnight. Like the body of an aging human, a dog’s body will feel its muscles become less powerful and its joints become less flexible. Some pathologies may appear in the same way. Let us keep that in mind.
We can offer our dog a recon trip: going around the arranged objects. He can analyze them with all his senses and get used to them. If our dog walks calmly, the leash can be long. If our dog is walking fast or excited, a short leash is mandatory. If our dog has not learned to walk on a leash without firing, we will teach him outside the course. We can not learn at the same time to cross a course, and to walk without pulling on the leash. Each lesson requires a specific session.
For a healthy dog, the course can be crossed twice completely. For any other dog, only once is enough.
Video: course for a healthy dog