Please Warm Up Before Entering the Ring!

03 Sep 2014Steve Schwarz

All teams do specific things before they enter the ring. Potty the handler, potty the dog, get their treats/toy, go through the Seeing/Simulation step of PAWS, etc. I think that “ritual” is very important. But there was one thing I would love to see more handlers do before every run:

Warm up yourself and your dog

I wouldn’t be surprised if many soft tissue injuries are caused by a dog or handler who has been sitting still for a long time and then running full out. Agility can be a sport with lots of explosive movements and changes of direction - for the dog if not for the handler. Those movements put a lot of stress on muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Almost 10 years ago I wrote up Milo’s warm up routine which is more elaborate than I do today. I’ve greatly simplified it to about 5 minutes of walking to jogging. While jogging I do some “sport specific” drills: Rear Crosses Rear CrossLearning the Rear Cross, Front Crosses Front CrossLearning the Front Cross, Shoulder Pulls Post Turn/Shoulder Pull/Pivot TurnLearning the Post Turn and Come to Side. Then when I feel my muscles are warm we might do a couple jumps on a practice jump - usually based on some handling aspect of the course we are about to run.

The effect of a warm up lasts pretty long so you can do it before your dog’s agility class. Use your body as a guide. If you still feel loose and warm when it is time to run it is likely your dog is too.

So if you have multiple runs in a trial or a class you might only need a full warm up before your first run and then just a short walk to jog before subsequent runs. Again use your body as a guide. For most performance dogs a few extra minutes of jogging shouldn’t take anything out of their performance in the ring.

I want us all to have a long healthy agility careers so please warm up yourself and your dog before every run. Don’t forget to warm up before your classes too!

This article is part of a Dog Agility Blogger Event all about activities outside the ring that help inside the ring.

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