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Does my dog need a Dog Fitness Class?

June 10, 2019

Does my dog need a Dog Fitness Class?

Pooch and Pony Fitness Interview Questions

 

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your Pooch and Pony Physiotherapy Business?

 

My name is Lindsey and I run Pooch and Pony Physiotherapy. My journey into the physiotherapy world started 13 years ago when my horse required intensive and ongoing physiotherapy due to injury. The difference I saw in her and the work the physios did fascinate me. I left university with a degree in Equine Sports Science (Equestrian Psychology) from Nottingham Trent University and applied to begin the physiotherapy course. At this time they told me I did not have enough small animal experience as I had previously worked on horse racing and dealing yards.

 

At this point, I applied to work in a small animal vet and began my Veterinary Nurse training. As I finished the training I was lucky enough to be accepted onto the Veterinary Physiotherapy course at Harper Adams and began my training with them whilst continuing to work as a Veterinary Nurse.

 

I have now been an RVN for 10 years and a qualified Veterinary Physiotherapist for 4 years. During this time I have built my physiotherapy business treating a variety of dogs and horses throughout South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

 doggy yoga, dog stretch, dog physio, dog doing yoga pose

My mobile practice allows me to visit dogs in their own home where I find they are more relaxed and this reduces the need for owners to have to travel their dog especially if they find this stressful. Owners may contact me directly for appointments or be referred by their own vets and treatments are often covered by pet insurance.

 

Recently achieving my Canine Conditioning Academy Licensed Instructor qualification has enabled me to develop my courses and classes further building on my knowledge and accessing the most up to date research relating to fitness.

 

What made you decide to start a Dog Fitness Class alongside your Physio work?

 

The Canine Conditioning classes came about as I wanted to provide owners with a class they can do with their dog after the basic puppy classes. With my puppy, I often found after basic training the options available were agility, flyball or obedience classes which were often geared up to competing.

 

This class allowed me to provide exercises owners could easily do at home to further their training whilst providing health and mental benefits as well. These exercises also have huge benefits to those dogs that are competing to ensure they have the core strength and ability to perform what they are being asked and the exercises can be used as part of a warm up and cool down routine.

 

I am passionate about education and prevention of injury and this allowed me to pass this information on to owners in a way they would be able to use and also have fun with their dogs whilst doing it.

 

What does your fitness class involve?

 

Our classes are fun and informative. They begin with a presentation explaining how each exercise will benefit your dog and which muscle groups are being targeted.

 

We then work at your dog’s own pace to learn the exercises. The exercises can be broken down into easier combinations or made more difficult depending on your dog’s ability ensuring both you and your dog get the best out of the class. As the exercises are all low impact this makes them suitable for older dogs and for younger dogs whose growth plates have not yet fused.

 

I spend one to one time with you and your dog during the class to give plenty of time to ask questions and focus on how you handle and train the exercises. This also allows me to discuss with you which exercises your dog finds easy or difficult and to give personalised advice.

 

The dogs really enjoy learning something new and it is great to see how their confidence develops. However, these exercises are deceptively difficult and it isn’t uncommon for owners to tell me their dog slept like a log after the class.

 

How will a pet owner know if their pet needs physiotherapy?

 

In humans, physiotherapy is commonly used after surgery or injury, for the treatment of muscle weakness, back pain and mobility issues. This is becoming more common in the animal world now as well.

 

Physiotherapy may be required after surgery or injury to reduce recovery time and the risk of reinjury. It is also beneficial in the management of long term conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia and arthritis or the onset of neurological or spinal issues as we look at improving or maintaining mobility, reducing pain and providing the owner with support and management techniques to still allow our dogs to live their lives to the fullest.

 

Many sporting and working dogs also have physiotherapy as part of a maintenance program to manage any aches and pains and detect changes before they develop into injuries.

 

If you notice changes in your dog’s posture or gait, a general slowing down, reluctance to perform activities they were previously happy doing such as jumping on/off furniture, negotiating stairs or competing for this may suggest physiotherapy can benefit your dog.

 

Why are stretching classes such as Yoga beneficial for your dog?

 

During our classes, we learn how to improve your dog’s balance, flexibility, core strength and proprioception. Whether your dog is a pet, working or competing for dog this can benefit them by reducing the risk of injury, promoting symmetry and correct posture.

 

Flexibility is the ability of the tissues to be able to shorten and lengthen and allow the joints to move through their full range of motion. If we do not use our full range of motion or experience postural changes the tissues can shorten and tighten preventing us from being able to perform certain movements. It can also mean that if your dog should slip and over extend these short tight tissues they are more likely to cause injury than if the tissues are flexible and can then stretch with the movement.

 

Proprioception is the unconscious knowledge of where parts of our body are in relation to others. By improving your dog’s awareness of their body they are more aware of where their paws are and their reaction times can improve enabling them to cope with changing terrain and obstacles and improve confidence through better body awareness and an improved bond with their handler

 

As with humans, poor posture can lead to muscular aches and pains and incorrect loading of joints. These changes in posture and gait can creep in gradually and unnoticed in many cases but over time the body begins to compensate for putting extra pressure on other joints and soft tissues as the body adapts. This may lead to injury or the early onset of conditions such as arthritis due to the increased load on these areas.

 

A strong core is necessary to promote correct movement and posture and by increasing your dog’s body awareness they learn to move and stand in a more balanced way. The core muscles are situated deep within the body and can’t be seen or touched but play an important role in stabilising the spine and pelvis.

 

The exercises also require a lot of focus so are mentally tiring for the dogs. Mental stimulation is an important aspect that is often overlooked and may help to reduce hyperactive and destructive behaviour. Mental stimulation is known to tire dogs out much quicker than physical exercise which makes this great for dogs that cannot be walked far, puppies and for owners who have limited time to exercise their dogs. It is also a good way to occupy them during bad weather when we would all much rather be tucked up inside!

 

Which dogs can attend your classes?

 

The classes are open to dogs of all breeds over the age of 6 months. They need to have already completed some general obedience training and know commands such as sit, down and wait/stay.

 

Class sizes are limited to allow plenty of one to one time with me to ensure each dog performs the exercises correctly and any questions you may have are answered.

 

Where can someone find your classes?

 

Our class dates can be found on our Pooch and Pony Physio Facebook page (www.facebook.com/poochandpony) or by contacting myself via email lindsey@poochandponyphysio.co.uk or phone 07946 283784.

 

We currently run classes in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, South Hykeham, Lincolnshire and Dodworth, South Yorkshire however we are always happy to run them at new venues or for clubs and groups.

 

Alternatively 1:1 session are available that are tailored to you and your dog.

 

How often do your classes occur and what is the costing?

 

The classes run either as a 4-week course (2 hours per session)
or a one-day intensive course and cost £80.

 

 

 

 





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