When our dogs are learning new things we have to remember there isn't just the mental component of learning the exercise and command but also the physical component to consider.
A dog must be fit, flexible and strong enough to perform what we are asking. Sometimes we have to break our end goal down into smaller goals and build it up slowly.
Dogs will naturally have a weaker side and a stronger side which can affect how they do exercises. They often drift away from the weaker hindleg so if you find your dog's hindquarters are veering to the left when walking in a straight line or asked to step backwards this could be due to weakness in the right hind.
I always reiterate how beneficial and important it is for dogs to be able to do exercises in both directions. If you have taught you dog to give paw, make sure they can do it with both paws and if they always spin to the right teach them to spin to the left. If they have difficulties it could be worth getting them checked by a physio to make sure there are no physical issues such as muscle tension that is inhibiting their movement.
As always it is great to teach your dog new things and have fun. Don't get too hard on yourself or your dog if it doesn't go right to start with but treat it as part of the learning process and analyse why it went wrong.
One thing people seem surprised about is that I can visit you and your dog at home to give treatments. My service is fully mobile and covers Derbyshire, South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.
I often find dogs and horses are more relaxed in their own environment and therefore respond much better to treatment sessions. They also don't have to get back in a car or horsebox and travel home afterwards meaning they can stay where they are and continue to snooze!
Travelling to see me can sometimes be impractical if you don't have transport or if your pet's condition makes it difficult for them to travel in the car.
I also offer evening and weekend appointments to fit around you.
At this time of year I see a lot of injuries associated with slipping on icy or muddy ground or strains from getting stuck in the mud. Arthritic pets can become stiffer due to less exercise and the cold, damp weather and would like a bit of extra TLC.
We also need to look forward to Spring as the nights are becoming lighter and we are able to go that bit further after work. Why not get your pet booked in for an MOT before they start showing signs of lameness, stiffness or unwillingness to exercise.
Well October and November have been particularly busy for me and because of this I am fashionably late with my blog this month. Oops! Keep an eye on the website and Facebook for upcoming news and events.
Starting in January I am very excited to announce we will be running Pawlates classes alongside dog trainer Tori Cartwright. These classes are a step up from general obedience and are aimed at anyone wishing to improve balance, flexibility, fitness and strength in their dogs whilst learning new exercises. The course is aimed at competition and family dogs and we will explain how each exercise affects the dog's musculoskeletal system. Pop along to our Facebook page, email or ring for more info.
It was the annual NAVP conference in October and a great day for learning and catching up with colleagues.
Dr Nicole Rombach gave some great lectures on The Equine Spine: Pathology and Dysfunction and Neuromuscular Functioning and Core Strength for Sports Horse Performance.
Caroline Gerdes MRCVS also gave an interesting talk on Poor Performance Investigation in Horses.
An interesting point that was brought up during these lectures was how do radiographic and diagnostic findings relate to clinical signs? It is interesting to see that some horses that have mild clinical signs can have advanced degenerative changes on imaging whereas other horses may show mild degenerative changes on imaging but can be severely lame. This is why each patient should be treated as an individual and their treatment plan whether that be medical, surgical or rehabilitation be tailored accordingly.
November saw me at the British Dressage National Convention. The theme this year was the Best of British and we had chance to see the paradressage riders train and have demonstrations off Laura Tomlinson, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester to name a few.
The parariders horses are fantastic and it was great to see how they adapt to a rider that may not be able to give the same aids as an able bodied person. I definitiely learned a lot and have a great deal of respect for these riders.
It was good to watch the professionals warm up and go through their training process and encounter the same problems as everyone else. Laura Tomlinson explained that she always warms up in canter as it is more natural for the horses as in the wild they only use trot to get to and from canter. What are your thoughts on this?
This is a question I get asked so many times! And the answer is yes but I'm also so much more!
So what is the differenced between a physio, chiropractor, osteopath and sports massage therapist?
We look at muscular development, muscular tension, conformation, movement and posture. Using this we then devise a treatment plan that may include manual therapy such as massage, stretching, electrotherapies and targeted exercises. These address the muscles, ligaments and tendons, circulatory and nervous systems. Physiotherapy can help relieve pain, improve mobility aid with weight loss and help with fitness.
These professionals use manual therapy to target biomechanical dysfunction of the spine. Chiropractors perform adjustments which are short thrusts to realign the spine and this then has affects on the nervous system in general.
Osteopaths believe the body has the ability to heal itself. They use gentle manual techniques to release muscular tension, regulate nerve supply, circulation and lymphatic drainage.
Sports massage therapist:
These therapists apply targeted sports massage to treat musculoskeletal problems but also aids circulation, flexibility and muscle health.
All these treatments are complementary and overlap to a certain extent and but are never a replacement for veterinary care. However, they are beneficial in the management of long term conditions, rehabilitation and fitness conditioning plus they are non invasive and drug free!
So the answer is yes, a lot of the time I treat problems with the back but in order to treat an animal fully you need to look at the bigger picture. For example a lot of hindlimb lamenesses in horses also manifest as soreness in the back. This is because animals compensate for weakness and injury by changing their movement and shifting their weight onto unaffected limbs.
I can also help you bring your horse or dog safely back into work after an injury or help you work towards a fitness goal. Help aid healing of fractures, reduce inflammation, improve core strength and rehabilitate neurological conditions.
I'm a little late with the blog post this month as I've had a busy few weeks.
My most recent adventure was having a stand at a local charity show offering free advice and physio assessments.
I was lucky to meet some lovely dogs and their owners. Many of these dogs were rescues and it is heartwarming to hear the owners talk about the progress these dogs have made since finding their forever homes.
For many rescue dogs their history is unknown and they often come with psychological and behavioural issues. They may also have prior injuries that you are unaware of and be compensating for areas of weakness or tension.
Physiotherapy can be a great tool for owners of rescue dogs. Having a physio MOT can give you a better understanding of how your dog moves, any areas of weakness or tension and give you support and advice on how to manage long term conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia.
Massage can help to promote relaxation, relieve stress and tension, reduce pain and help dog and owner develop a bond. For dogs that find the kennel or home environment stressful or are struggling to adapt to their change in circumstances regular massage sessions can be extremely beneficial.
Therapeutic exercise has mental and physical benefits. By teaching your dog some of these simple exercises you can improve confidence and responsiveness, strengthen muscles and help to tire your dog mentally.
If you want to know more about physiotherapy and how it can help you and your pet get in touch to book an appointment or for me to answer your questions.