Do dogs need to warm up and stretch before exercising? We usually leave the house with no preparation.
From the Editors of The Dog Daily
Warming up and stretching are actually two different activities, in terms of dogs. According to sisters Sasha and Ashley Foster, authors of the book The Healthy Way to Stretch Your Dog
, dogs should be stretched after exercise. They say research on human athletes has demonstrated that muscles need to warm up before
being stretched. That principle, they believe, is no different for dogs. "Stretching before the body is heated can cause injury. We want the muscles nice and warm -- after a walk or a swim -- before we stretch," says Sasha Foster.
The stretches increase blood flow to working muscles. This helps prevent muscle stiffness that could lead to future health problems. Doing the stretches also provides a good transition for your dog from activity to rest. You'll find that your pet will look forward to this extra quality time with you.
An easy stretch to start off with is to get your dog to do a play bow. Hold a treat just out of reach until your dog fully stretches out its front legs. You can also manually stretch your dog's limbs by having it lie on its side. Very gently stretch each of your dog's legs out and hold for 5 to 10 seconds before releasing.
Before you and your dog go out to exercise, however, you can get your pet's circulation going and give it an energy boost with a brief warm-up. For example, have your dog turn around in circles a few times, weave in and out of your legs, or otherwise move a bit more briskly before you bring up your dog's heart rate with the longer exercise.