Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hind End Awareness

Vegas hasn't a clue she has a behind. It's been very rainy many of the evenings this week plus I've been gone a lot so haven't had a lot of time to work with her outside. So, Monday night after I got home from a PDX Danes board meeting, my son was working with our new dog, Leo, downstairs so I headed upstairs to work with Vegas.

Some time back we worked with Bobbie Lyons on core strengthening and learned about an easy way to make a piece of equipment at home to use. I've inserted a picture below. The item is a phone book covered securely in duct tape. Very simple! The purpose of the duct tape is to make it durable and prevent it from slipping and sliding when your dog stands on it. Essentially it solidifies the phone book. Hopefully I can get a video of this soon and post as an addendum for this topic. It's actually been quite a while since I worked with Vegas using the phone book and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly she took to it and knew what to do. All I did was to use our handy tube of peanut butter and she was more than willing.
What I did was to have her place her front feet on the phone book. Then, standing next to her at the shoulder, I used the peanut butter tube to motivate her and had her use her hind feet to move around the phone book in a circle, keeping her front feet on the book at all times. For starters, it requires concentration and your dog understanding what you want him or her to do. For Vegas, I do this to encourage her to use her back feet for more than a support system for her long body. Doing this exercise, it requires her to think about the placement of her feet. For instance, she is essentially side stepping in a circle. She could easily step on her own foot. She doesn't want to do that or it will throw her off balance. She is getitng so she can do it rather quickly now and with very few stops and starts.

We spent about 15 minutes working on this exercise alone, taking turns going in both directions. Each rotation takes just a couple of seconds and we did approximately 10 rotations at a time.

I had intentions to work on the ball with Vegas, too, but it needs a tad more air to make that possible. In addition to the phone book work, I also worked on stretching Vegas some.

I learned at our last trial a couple of weeks ago that she has two vertebrae in the shoulder area that are slightly twisted and causing some discomfort in Vegas' back. My friend, Beth, is a canine massage therapist and is who noticed this with Vegas. She suggested some stretches to help her limber up in that area to relieve the pressure from the vertebrae. If you can imagine it, I stand next to Vegas with her side up against me, one leg up against her hip and I use the other leg to flex her ribcage a bit. Basically it's just a slight pressure to help her regain some movement horizontally in her spine in the upper back area. I repeated this several times on each side.

The next stretch I worked with her on is one we can do fairly easily and comes naturally to Vegas. All I have to do is to have a tasty treat in hand and show it to her then bring my hand back toward her hip. She follows me with her head and I keep her there a couple of seconds, enticed by the treat, and then release. We repeated that on both sides several times, too.

Last, I repeated the same steps in the second stretching exercise but didn't bring her head clear to her hip. Instead I had her just bring her head toward her shoulder. Again, we repeated this several times. I'm already able to tell a difference in the flexion in her back and don't detect the touchiness and discomfort anymore. I don't think this will be a debilitating thing for her but just something I should always be aware of. To prevent it being a problem I will continually do these stretches with her to keep that area of her spine loose and flexible.

Here is a goofy picture I'm including because she was clearly telling me she wasn't done and was offering random behaviors to try to get more treats. I love that silly girl....

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