Instructor: Debbie Gross
There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.
Registration will begin at 10:30 AM Pacific Time.
Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 25 students, Bronze: unlimited.
Gold Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to post questions and videos to the course forums. Students will receive instructor feedback on written and video assignments.
Silver Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to participate in the discussion forum. Students may ask GENERAL questions about course materials and may submit two, one-minute videos for instructor feedback. Any questions specific to your dog MUST be accompanied by a video.
Bronze Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to read all questions and answers posted in the class forums. Students will not post questions or submit written or video assignments.
For more details, refund policies, and answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
As a dog sport enthusiast, you know that keeping your dog fit is important to prevent injuries that could sideline or even end your dog's career. Unfortunately, understanding HOW to keep him fit is much more complicated.
This course will build on the basics of anatomy, function, and movement that were introduced in the K9 Conditioning 1 course, and then take conditioning, strengthening, and endurance exercises to a whole new level. Learn how to apply basic principles to everything from puppies to seniors, little dogs to the big guys, and special body types like long, long backs. Tips will be shared for developing stretching routines, warm up/cool down programs, and using special equipment like treadmills. The end result will be more sophisticated knowledge in keeping your dog fit and safe!
This level class will also introduce a program for YOU to work on your strength and balance with a simple exercise routine. We will begin with simple exercises designed to help work your core and your strength. These exercise principles are based on a 90 second exercise routine founded by Pete Cerque. This will be a wonderful adjunct to your workout with your dog!
- Brief review of the first session
- Anatomical review of specific muscle regions pertinent to the functioning dog
- Advanced balance exercises using the balance disc/FitBone/or a similar object
- Strengthening for YOU to help YOU work with your dog!
- Where are my dog's butt muscles and what are they used for?
- Where are the quads – and what are they used for?
- Exercises for the hindlimb – targeting the butt and quad muscles
- Walk this way – why does my dog walk the way he does?
- Description of the different gait patterns in dogs
- Exercises to work on gait abdominal exercises
- Check in on YOU and your strengthening activities
- Giant breeds and what we need to do for them
- Does my dog have a long back – and what can I do for that?
- Toy breeds and what we need to do for them
- Is my dog a structural mess? Or are they perfect?
- Key muscles in the front legs
- How to exercise and target the muscles in the front legs
- Putting it all together and making sense of exercise and my dog
- How can I continue to stack the cards in my dog’s favor to decrease and help prevent injuries
- My fitness plan for my dog
- Dynamic core work
- Check in on your strengthening activities for YOU and how far you have come!
K9 Conditioning 1 is recommended prior to this course, but not a must. For a gold level spot in K9 Conditioning 2 it is recommended to have taken a K9 Conditioning class at any level. If you have any experience with canine conditioning, you will do fine with the class. You can do this at read only along with the K9 conditioning 2 class. For a bronze level spot, there are no requirements; however, you might want to purchase the lecture-only portion of K9 Conditioning 1 from our Prerequisites Purchase Page for self-study. This class is very benefical to anyone with a dog - and the goal is to live the longest quality of life for the longest time possible!
Welcome to K9 Conditioning 2. I am excited to welcome you to the second class. Congratulations on taking the time to learn about your dog’s body and how to appropriately strengthen and condition. Owning and playing with our dogs is one of the highlights of our lives, and I am a firm believer that the goal of each owner should be to help the dog live the best quality of life for the longest time possible. Ultimately, it is never about ribbons or awards, but the time we spend with them.
As always, please feel free to post any questions you may have. The goal is for you to learn and have fun with your dogs!
General Factors Affecting Condition
Ideally when we look at keeping our canine friends in good condition, we look at the following:
Your dog should be at his optimal weight, which may be difficult to discern and determine. This may be why about half the dogs in the United States are overweight. Osteoarthritis, Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory and cardiac problems, kidney disease, cancer, and other musculoskeletal diseases are all consequences of obesity in dogs. There is a great guest lecture by Dr. Matt Brunke covering nutrition in the canine athlete.
Consider the following:
1)5 extra pounds on a Chihuahua that should be 12 pounds is similar to 58 extra pounds on a 140 pound woman
2)5 extra pounds on a Dachshund that should be 25 pounds is similar to 28 extra pounds on a 140 pound woman
3)5 extra pounds on a Labrador Retriever that should be 70 pounds is similar to 10 extra pounds on a 140 pound woman
Obesity is completely preventable. If you need help determining the proper weight for your dog, please visit the following websites:
Your dog’s overall health is pertinent to the activity the dog participates in. A trusted veterinarian you feel comfortable with should see your dog on a regular basis. It should be someone you could speak with regarding your dog’s behavior, health and sport or activity. There are many different types of veterinarians out there and it is important to find the one that fits you and your dog.
Veterinarians are wonderful people, but in fairness to them, they are not experts in all animals, all breeds, or all specialties and activities of dog sports. Find someone that understands your breed, your sport or activity’s demands, and understands you. It may take some time to find someone. In addition, you should never be afraid to express your opinion or ask to be referred to a specialist. You and I would not let a general practitioner operate on our knees for a torn ligament - we would go to an orthopedist. The same holds true with our dogs. Trust your veterinarian will refer you when needed and respect that.
My favorite veterinarian has been practicing for over 30 years. When I bring my clumber spaniels in, he willingly admits he has only worked with one in his career and would rather another veterinarian who does see a lot of clumbers see him. I so appreciate the honesty and the guidance.
Besides all of the obvious reasons to bring your dog to your vet (not feeling well, vomiting, fever, broken leg, annual physical, etc.), you should always bring them in if you suspect something is going on. I always talk with my clients about assuming it is physical before behavioral. I promise your dog is not seeking revenge on you by blowing off your hand command in practice because you did not let them sleep on your head the night before!
Some signs that things are not right in a working dog:
1)Refusing an activity
2)Does not want to practice, play, or compete with you
3)Avoidance of an obstacle, activity (going up stairs), or something the dog normally does
4)Increase or decrease in weight
5)Increase or decrease in water uptake
6)Lameness - slight, moderate, or constant
7)Lethargy that is abnormal for your dog - i.e., normally jumps up in the morning but is lazy for a few days
8)Vocalization or other indication of pain
9)Unexplained aggressiveness towards other dogs or people
10)Does not want to be pet or handled as normal
There is so much more, so if you feel something is off, investigate it. The better you know your dog, the better team you will be, and the better you will understand if there is a problem.
I am confident we can all look back at different parts of our lives and remember how fit we were or were not. For example, when we could go on a 5-mile hike with our dog, twice a day! Or when we could go through a busy weekend of activities and not feel exhausted the next day! Just like us, dogs are in better shape at different periods of their lives. Part of this is due to their age, and the other part due to their activity level and training.
It is always important to take an objective look at your dog to determine if they are in the best shape possible for the activities you are asking them to do. Ask yourself if they do things the same way they used to, and with the same enthusiasm. For example, does your dog no longer enthusiastically go up the stairs at the end of the day? This may indicate they are experiencing a decrease in strength and a decrease in endurance in their hindlimb musculature.
An Important part of our fitness level is our balance. The ability to maintain balance is a fairly complex process that depends on a few major components. Balance will be key throughout the dog’s life and is a skill that will be needed as a base for ALL of our conditioning exercises.
The components that contribute to balance are:
1)Our sensory input: This includes sense of touch from the feet, paws, hocks, wrists, and joints; the dog’s vision; and the inner ear sensors. In the first class, I had asked all of you to stand on one foot with and without your eyes closed. I also asked you to stand on one foot and move your head up and down and side to side. These are simple exercises - but also pretty challenging! Our eyes help us to determine if we are moving or not. Our feet and joints help us to determine what the surface is like. In dogs, all four feet and the joints determine what the surface is like.
2)Our brain’s ability to process the information coming in from the brain. The brain needs to be able to respond to this information and move appropriately. Sometimes this ability is affected through disease processes, such as with strokes or conditions causing brain damage.
3)Our muscles and joints for coordinating the movements required to maintain the muscles. The muscles need to be strong enough to respond and cause the region to react.
Age is another important factor when looking at your dog’s fitness and activity level. The body of a growing puppy needs to be respected so there is not excessive stress on their growth plates. Their coordination, growth, muscular control, and concentration need to be factored in. Senior dogs will require more balance activities that develop strength in their core as they age. One of the more common problems with senior dogs is that they are not able to walk across a slippery floor or jump into a car. This is partly due to a decrease in strength and a loss of balance and coordination.
Anatomical Considerations for Active Dogs
It is important to understand a basic review of anatomy so that you understand what we are talking about with regard to the structural components of the dogs.
Dogs normally place approximately 60 to 70% of their weight on the front legs, and the remaining 30 to 40% of their weight on their back legs. These percentages change with different breeds. For example, many of the bully breeds will place more weight on the front legs. It is important to remember this when you are exercising with your dog. When you place your dog on a piece of balance equipment and lift one of their front legs, it will be more difficult for the dog to adjust their balance than it will be when you lift the back legs.
The core muscles of the body are considered to be the abdominal region, the back muscles, and the large muscles of the hips and the shoulders. The core muscles are in blue and include the abdominals, the spinal muscles, and the muscles on the sides or ribs.
These muscles help with posture and control. They are the MOST important muscles in the body for movement. All of the movement of the body stems from there. If you have ever had a bad stomach pain or back pain, you know that you cannot move well - or perhaps even at all! Weakness in these areas will affect your entire body’s movement. Because the dog is quadruped, or on all fours, their back and stomach muscles become even more of a pivotal and central point of the body. A good, strong core will mean more power, a well-protected spine, and a healthier body.
The other muscles indicated on the illustration are the postural muscles or the Type I muscle fibers. They include all of the core muscles, as well as the large muscles of the hips, shoulders, and calf area. These muscles help with balance, control, and endurance. They are the muscles that help with standing and posture, and they are very important to the overall health of the dog. These muscles are indicated in red in the illustration.
Advanced Balance Exercises
We started this exercise in the first segment of the class. Remember, we do this by asking the dog to stand squarely on the floor or another flat surface. Slowly lift the opposite front and back legs up approximately one to two inches off the ground and hold a few seconds. This should be a fundamental exercise for all of our dogs.
Now we are going to refine it a bit. Place a sheet of paper, a light CD case, or some other similar object on the mid back. The purpose of this object is to demonstrate a straight spine. When we lift the opposite forelimb and hindlimb on the dog, the spine should remain flat without any compensations or weight shifts. The paper or CD cover (or something similar) will help you see if this happens.
While you are filming this exercise, you may also be able to see the switch or transition. Repeat this exercise on each side and hold for 5 to 10 seconds OR until you start to see the dog compensating. Begin with 5 to 10 repetitions and continue to increase. As your dog starts to become stronger, increase the length of time you hold the legs up as well as the number of repetitions.
I am using a thin catalogue on Rosa's back to work on her balance. I have asked her to stand still for 10 seconds, and if there are any shifts in her posture, the catalogue will shift and fall. These photos demonstrate two different views.
Now, I am manually lifting her right front foot a little over an inch off of the table. I am holding for a few seconds, and as soon as I see the catalogue and/or her posture begin to change, I return the paw to the table.
We now move on to the back right foot, and again, pick it up approximately one inch and watch for any shifts or changes in posture. As soon as there is a movement of the catalogue, or loss of topline, I am going to return her foot. This will be repeated on each leg. I prefer to start in the front and move to the back, but you can perform the exercise in any manner that works for you.
Advanced Bird Dog
Once your dog is comfortable with this exercise on the floor, we can move to a piece of equipment. A good guideline is to progress to using equipment when your dog is able to hold the exercise for at least ten seconds and for ten repetitions on each side.
This video will show you the struggle is real! We are working with a German Shepherd, and you can tell, it takes him a bit to get comfortable with this exercise. He wants to pull his hindlimbs in closer to his forelimbs to begin. As he starts to get more comfortable, he is able to perform this a bit easier.
Your equipment will depend on the size of your dog. Some options include using an Infinity, two disks, one disc, an air mattress, or an ottoman. Whichever piece of equipment you choose, we will want the dog to stand squarely and not be compensating in any way. In other words, the dog should be able to get into a neutral spinal position on the equipment. The German Shepherd is on an 85 cm Infinity which allows a large surface area for the dog to work with. Safety will always remain the key. I have found many dogs do well starting on a sofa cushion or a mat, and then working up.
Begin by asking your dog to stand on all fours. Then, ask them to step up on an object. The height of the object will depend upon the height of the dog, but will vary between 2 and 10 inches. The goal of this exercise is to keep the spine in neutral and not over or hyper extend or arch the back. While you are asking them to do this, use a treat or a toy to keep their spine in a neutral position by placing the toy or treat right in front of their mouth. If you find they are arching their back, or hyperextending, bring their nose down slightly to their chest. This will cause their abdominals to tighten up.
Do this a few times and video it for homework. We will be looking at how the spine looks in the videos. I would like you to start on a stationary object, such as a step, four by four, or two by four. The progression will be to move towards an uneven object.
This is one of the challenges for TotoFit - and it is great to work on. This will be part of your homework!
Side Sit Ups
This exercise will focus on the oblique muscles of the abdomen and are important for control, turning activities, and posture.
To begin, ask your dog to lie on his side. It does not matter which side because we will be doing both sides. The dog should be relaxed and on a comfortable yet firm surface. Using a treat, ask the dog to move their head towards their hip. Only guide them as far as they can go without lifting their back legs off the ground. Your dog may only be able to lift their head off the ground before they start curling their back legs up. That is a great starting point! They will be able to do a bigger sit up as they develop more muscles. Ask your dog to perform this five times, each time bringing them back to the neutral position (lying down). Then switch to the other side.
These still shots are of the starting and ending positions of the side sit ups. You may perform this on the floor or a table. Zephyr was more comfortable on the floor, so we moved him from the table to the floor. (Thank you to Doreen Palmer and Z-man for the exercises)
These videos are of a wonderful Australian Cattle dog that is very fit and agile. This was his first attempt at performing these, and you can see, they are not perfect. But I wanted to show you these so you understand, it is a learning curve!
For your homework, please video the above 5 exercises as indicated. Please remember to keep each video at approximately two minutes in length, and try not to submit another one until I have reviewed the first one.
1. Balance with a piece of paper on the dogs' back with and without leg lifts
2. Balance with a piece of paper on the dogs' back with and without leg lifts while standing on an uneven surface
3. Extensions - your choice of dificulty. As always, go with what you can handle with your dog.
4. Side sit ups
5. TotoFit Challenge :)
A SAMPLING OF WHAT PRIOR STUDENTS HAVE SAID ABOUT THIS COURSE ...
Fantastic course! So happy I took it. I've seen very promising changes in my dysplastic dog. I love that the advice I got was tailored for her specific needs and limitations. I highly recommend this course.
After finishing both this class and Canine Conditioning 1, I feel that I have the "hands on" skills to keep my dogs in shape and the "observational" skills to understand when they might be having problems. I highly recommend both these classes to all dog owners.
The course definitely exceeded my expectations. I have taken other canine conditioning courses through the years, but this one provided greater depth in understanding canine anatomy, the use of various conditioning equipment/exercises, and how to make conditioning part of your everyday routine. Great course - the dogs just love their daily conditioning adventures.
I learned a lot just in the first few weeks. I would like to take the class if offered again. Debbie is very responsive. She adjusts her responses to the needs of each dog. I am very glad to have the lectures in my library. What a great resource to have in Debbie Gross and Wizard of Paws. Sandy H
Canine Condition 1 and 2 were amazing! I learned a lot from both classes and was able to put together a solid exercise program for my dog. Would highly recommend to anyone who competes in dog sports.
"Several people were floored when I told them he is turning 6 in April and still has this much energy! I can't thank you enough for that, Deb! Before CC110, I noticed that he started slowing down which would make me tear up every time. It felt like it was't fair, I just got him and he is like a child to me (I am yet to have human children :)). So, thank you! You gave me my puppy back and more! I am pretty sure he is in a better shape than when I adopted him." Sanja Popovic
Bandit is strong for the first time in his life. For those who don't know, he had panosteitis and was unable to walk without a limp for a good deal of his puppyhood. I have always felt that he didn't develop quite properly, especially in his front legs. After just this session of Fitness 2, he is moving like a young Border Collie should. His gait is strong. He is jumping properly. His front legs don't look so much like pegs! He finally seems physically "right" for the first time ever. For anyone considering her Conditioning and Fitness classes, TAKE THEM!! Invest in a bit of equipment. Do the basic core work. It makes SUCH a difference!! I honestly still don't understand why it has such an impact, but it really does! Tessa and I did part 1 and she gained back all the strength and endurance she was losing in her Agility performances. And Bandit is doing Part 2, and is developing properly at last. I seriously recommend these classes!!! Kristine Hammer