You will find here some exercises described, with either pictures or videos to demonstrate. These therapeutic exercises all have different purposes, some will work on strength, others on proprioception (perception of the body in space), some on coordination, balance and so on.
Please do not attempt these exercises with your dog unless they have been prescribed, explained and/or demonstrated with you and your pet. Some exercises could be detrimental if not performed correctly.
You will find here some exercises described, with videos or pictures to demonstrate them. These therapeutic exercises have varied purposes, some will work on strength, others on proprioception (perception of the body in space), some on coordination, balance, core stability...
I am releasing these exercises in an attempt to help my patients
during the closure due to the COVID 19 outbreak.
Please be kind and do not share or use the videos and pictures without consent.
Please do not attempt these exercises if they have not been prescribed, demonstrated and/or practised with you and your pet. Some of them can be detrimental if performed incorrectly. If your pet suddenly refuses to do an exercise, stop, give them 48h rest and ask for veterinary advice if the refusal persists.
Vet&Physio Ltd will not accept any liability for injury which may be sustained whilst doing these exercises without prescription or veterinary advice.
Walking over poles
Difficulty : easy
This is one of the simplest exercises to set up, and a good "all rounder".
You can do this at home on a non-slip surface or outside on grass. Purpose made cavalettis are great, but you can be creative and use bamboo sticks, broomsticks, old plastic pipes or guttering... As a rule of thumb, the distance between the poles should be the length of the dog's body. Use between 4 and 8 poles.
Depending on the challenge needed and the animal's fitness, they may be rested on the floor or slightly elevated, generally not higher than the carpus (wrist).
How to perform :
The exercise should be performed slowly, at a walk and in a controlled manner. Repeat several times, up and down, twice to three times a day.
This will work on proprioception, joint range of movement, coordination and stepping pattern.
Standing on a step
Difficulty : medium
Requires some core stability, balance and hindlimb strength. Use a step adapted to the size of your dog, and to the level of challenge needed.
How to perform : Have the dog standing with his front feet on the step, hind limb square, body straight, tummy tucked in, head up. Hold the position for 5 sec, then get off the step. Repeat several times, as instructed. The challenge can be inscreased by getting the dog to move his head from side to side and up/down
Purpose : hind limb strength, core stability
Difficulty : easy to set up and for the dog to understand, can be challenging in older/painful/weak pets.
How to perform : Ask the dog to repeat the sequence , whilst holding each position for 5 sec. The sit and the down must be square on front limbs and hind limbs. Make sure that the dog reaches a full square stance and holds the position, before asking another sequence. Repeat 3 to 5 times, as instructed. Do not let the dog "slam" his elbows on the floor when going down, the movement needs to be controlled.
Purpose : hind limb and fore limb strength and flexibility, maintain joint range of movement, core stability/strength
3 leg stance
Requires a good core stability and control, and limb strength. The dog needs to learn to stand with one foot off the ground without moving/turning/rotating his body. The assistant must lift the foot lightly off the ground whilst encouraging the dog to look up and straight forward with a treat.
How to perform : Prepare the dog in square stance. Pre-empty them by asking to lift the paw (even if they do not know the command), then hold the foot off the ground for 5 sec. Repeat with the other feet alternatively. Depending on the challenge required, the exercise can focus on the forelimbs or hind limbs.
Purpose : hindlimb/forelimb strength, weight shifting, core strength.
Difficulty : easy
This is easy to set up and is useful at any stage on recovery. The challenge is to walk on varied surfaces on a non-slip surface. Can be set up inside with various rugs, bubble wrap, bath mats etc. In the picture, small poles on the ground are added to increase the challenge. Outside, a walkway can be set up with grass/wood chips/gravel/sand/mud/various sizes of bark...
How to perform: make the pet walk up and down the walkway several times a day.
Purpose : proprioception training, body awareness, sensory stimulation. particularly good for recovery after neurological injury and for older pets.
Cats can be encouraged to walk on the walkway by playing with a ball or following a Laser pointer.
Walking over poles in a circle : "FAN"
Difficulty : difficult
Requires very good coordination, body awareness and flexibility. To set up, you need several poles and cones. Purpose made cavalettis are better, but you can still be creative and use broomsticks...and crushed cans/tins to hold them. The poles are set at varying heights in a circle.
How to perform : ask the dog to walk around the "fan" slowly, either by following a treat or with the dog on the lead. Repeat 2/3 times in both directions.
Purpose: increase flexibility, joint range of movement, gait pattern/control
Walking on and off a curb:
Difficulty : Difficult. Easy to implement / add in the usual walk. requires good control and stabilisation, good body awareness.
How to perform : Ask the dog to walk on and off the curb slowly , without jumping, whilst staying parallel to the curb. Do both ways for a few meters. Choose initially a shallow curb, especially for a small dog.
Purpose : work on adductor and abductor muscles of the limbs. improve joint range of movement. flexibility.