Monday, October 15, 2012

Core Strengthening & Body Awareness

Last Tuesday we had an appointment with our favorite "on the ball" and "dog fitness" lady, Bobbie Lyons with Pawsitive Performance. Long story short, we have a lot of activities already to start doing and keeping us busy and I'm excited to do it. However, at this moment that sounds like a lie even to me cause I have a really bad headache and can't muster up the energy/strength it takes to work with V. So she rests a day.... But, when I feel well and get on it, we're going to do a lot. And I'll fill in the blog more about it then. For right now, here are the goals I can identify:

  • Tightening up her sits
  • Tightening up her downs (no wingy back legs; no leaning over onto one hip or the other)
  • Sitting without rolling back onto her hips
  • Straightening her back, not roaching
  • Moving her back feet independent of her front feet
  • Backing up straight
Here is the workout Bobbie prepared for us after our first meeting:

Below are the exercises that we talked about and a "schedule" that you can change to fit your life. This is just an example.    The goal is to do at least 3 days of strength work and two days REST (ok to walk, trot, & stretch on rest days) and not to do any strength work on the same day as agility practice.  ALL EXERCISES AND STRETCHES SHOULD BE DONE WHEN VEGAS IS WARM.

Observations/things to work on next visit: 
1. Vegas is really wide in the rear.  She defaults to a wide stance much of the time.  We will be working on this
2. Vegas has a slight roach in her back (possible Spondylosis, per Dr. Mike) Cavalettis will help to lengthen her out.  Next visit we will incorporate some back stretches.
3. Also next visit I would like to see how tight she is and figure out a stretching protocol that best fits her needs.
4. Vegas glides through the cavalettis and I truly believe this would really benefit her.   Cavaletti work can be done in place of trot work but not only half the time.   Lets talk about trot work next visit.


1.  Make Cavaletti's.  8-10 inches high... Minimum 6 but can make up to 12  - timed exercise to start at 5 minutes, back and forth through the poles.  Distance between each pole should be about 3-4 inches longer than Vegas is from shoulders to hips.   Once you have these we will build on the time spent and change up the spacing.

2.  Make PVC parking space.   Here is a video from my online class:

:   Stand/ down /stand/   and sit /stand.  We will work on the stand to sit later.  Spend 5 minutes   
This exercises teaches Vegas to engage her core/trunk muscles and starts the strengthening process.

Tues:  REST DAY but add Bow after a walk.  30 sec hold ...   Or  3sets of 10 sec.

Wed: 1.  
Back up, keeping a flat back and REACHING with her hind legs vs swinging her butt back and forth. 
           2Weight shifting on the flat or on a plank...   You want to work toward 5 seconds of constant pressure at     each shoulder and hip.   5-8 times each position. 
Backing up improves hind end awareness and distribution of weight.   Weight shifting teaches Vegas to engage her core/trunk as well as the supporting muscles around the hips and shoulders to improve stability
Thurs: REST DAY but add Bow after a walk.  30 sec hold ...   Or  3sets of 10 sec.

Friday:  Rotation exercise with front feet elevated on a balance disc, step stool or ??   Make sure that Vegas keeps a flat back
Rotation exercises with front feet elevated engages the core/ trunk, engages adductor and abductor muscles (inside/outside of upper rear leg) and improves rear end awareness. 

Sat:  your choice.  You could do a combination of Mon/Wed or Wed/Friday

REST DAY but add Bow after a walk.  30 sec hold ...   Or  3sets of 10 sec. 

At this point it is OK to get more than 3 strength days in because these are light activities to get Vegas to engage her core and improve her rear end awareness.  Don't do more than 5-10 minutes in a session, however you may do two sessions on a day (like the weekend when you have more time, morning/afternoon or whatever.)

My favorite thing about all this is the compilation Bobbie put together. It's just the kind of thing I needed and am no good at. So I'm going to get my headache gone and get my act together for V. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blah - Obedience, Pumpkins, and Life

Kind of just been one of those weeks. Busy, tired, and more busy and tired. Monday we went to see Dr. Salewski again. He got quite a bit of knotty tightness out of her left shoulder and felt the acupuncture was helping to release some of that tension, etc. to allow the adjustment. He worked further on her sacral region as well. So here's the hitch in our giddyup. If, when we go back again a week from tomorrow and she's not fully adjusted yet, he's less confident that she'll be returning to her normal activities/life. So mental bummer and I think, while reflecting on this, it's saturated my brain and sort of depressed me this week.

I don't remember what Tuesday had in store for us but Wednesday was supposed to be my son's football game. That got canceled mid-afternoon so I suddenly had an evening free. But not for long. The first Wednesdays of the month are our obedience club meetings and I hadn't been able to make one in a while so off I went! It was nice to see people, catch up on business, find out what's coming down the pipeline, and chat with some friends.

Thursday I came home from work and immediately loaded the dogs and took them to my son's school for a walk. We had about 45-60 minutes to walk our legs off. So off we went on the Tonquin Trail at the Graham Oaks Nature Park
Friday night was chill time again and Saturday morning brought us to our obedience club and another novice match. I entered Vegas in one run each Beginner Novice and Novice. She was fourth or fifth in the first group and I have to say, I was quite pleased with her Novice run. Our heeling still needs work and I'm continually luring/baiting (treat in my hand on my abdomen), but, it has promise and she was very amenable and happy in the ring. She's starting to learn a finish, too, which we've been lacking. All in all, fairly good.

Beginner Novice was a bit later and after I'd come and gone with Leo a couple times and she was stressing in the truck. Definitely didn't have the attention there that I'd like and she got up from her sit and I had to return to her and start again.

Things to work on at this point:

  • Heeling - starting to reduce the treats and build longevity with focus behavior.
  • Speed transitions - not forging or lagging with the changes. 
  • Continue working on finish behavior.
  • Down stays - need to teach her to rock over on one hip when I ask for the down stay and hopefully added comfort will help her to stay down.
  • Close proximity on recall
  • Halts; I want to work on greater consistency with sitting straight. Also speed to sit. 
Things I'm pleased with:
  • Stand/sit for exam - As much as V loves people, she's holding this really well and not shifting feet or asking for attention when they come to her. 
  • Sit Stay - She almost made it through the entire minute for the sit stay with me all the way across the ring. 
  • Attitude - I'm learning while she's learning so always a bit more difficult. She's still showing a positive, enjoyable attitude while working. 
  • Sit/Down Stays - She doesn't pay any attention to the other dogs. They don't exist; she keeps her focus on me. 
  • Halts; she almost always is prompt with the sit on halt. 
That brings us to today. We went to the Bella Organic and Portland Pumpkin Farms for their Oregon Ducks corn field maze. I'd gotten a special through Living Social - just $7/two tickets. Vegas and Juicy came along. 
The main thing I have to say about this little adventure is: hot. Turn down the heat. We're still near to mid-70s in Oregon and after so many months of dry, warm-hot temps, I'm done. It's October for crying out loud. I think the dogs agree, if the long tongues are any indication.
At one or two points Vegas was leading the way through the maze. It was really cute; she was plodding along and when we came to an intersection she would usually look all ways and very decidedly make a choice. She even helped us locate a podium where a clue was found for the Farm Scene Investigations game.