Last weekend at the agility trial in Turner, Vegas and I "roomed" in a stall with a friend who just took her veterinary boards at Oregon State University. She mentioned she had taken a sports medicine class and the instructor mentioned the most common injury to agility dogs is caused by their constant stops, starts, and abrupt movements. Not being a veterinary student, I'll explain as best as I can.
Rachel said there is a tendon on the back of the back legs called the gastoc tendon. In this class, she learned that the activity in agility causes small tears in this tendon that end up with fibrous build-up. Over time, the injury is a torn gastoc tendon caused by weakening from the small tears and subsequent build-up. The best solution, as advised by the doctor teaching the class, is to teach your dog to crawl. By crawling, it helps to break up any fibrous tissue which allows the tendon to function as normal as opposed to being compromised.
So, this weekend, I am going to begin trying to teach Vegas to crawl. My plan is to put her in a down and use some really tasty treats and my clicker. I'm going to try to get her to creep forward without lifting her body. The first time she seems to put forth any forward movement, I will click and treat her, then work from there. I'll try to post video if I can get it as we begin this training journey.