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Speed Matters: Increase Your Dog's Speed For Sports Performance

Unlocking Your Dog's Athletic Potential

From leaping through agility courses to sprinting along a flyball course, dogs possess an incredible athletic potential that often goes untapped. While most of us adore our canine companions for their loyalty and affection, understanding the benefits of improving a dog's speed can open up a world of possibilities for them. Whether your pup is an aspiring athlete or simply enjoys an active lifestyle, enhancing their speed can elevate their overall quality of life. In this blog post, I'm going to cover one of my most frequently asked questions - how can I improve my dog's speed for *fill in your sport here*. We will explore not only the reasons why working on your dog's speed is crucial but also which exercises you can do to actively improve their speed.

The Benefits of Improving a Dog's Speed: A World of Canine Sports:

Canine sports are gaining immense popularity worldwide. The list of sports and competitions available for our four-legged friends is vast, from agility and flyball to obedience trials and even dock diving. Here are a few reasons why honing your dog's speed can lead to an exceptional performance in these sports:

  1. Agility: In this sport, dogs navigate through a timed obstacle course. Speed, agility, and precision are essential for success. Improving your dog's speed and acceleration will allow them to complete the course with finesse and, hopefully, a winning time.

  2. Flyball: Flyball is all about speed and acceleration. Dogs race over hurdles to retrieve a ball and then race back over the hurdles to release it to the handler. Speed is crucial for both retrieving and returning the ball as quickly as possible, as in this relay race, the fastest time wins!

  3. Canicross: In sports like canicross, speed and endurance is the name of the game. Dogs need speed and endurance to complete the courses, and the faster your dog can run, the more likely you are to win!

  4. Canine Disc: This sport requires dogs to sprint and leap to catch flying discs or "Frisbees". Speed and agility are fundamental to outmanoeuvring your opponents and making those jaw-dropping catches. The faster your dog can run and react, the further you can throw the disc.

Which Areas Should We Work On?

To enhance your dog's speed, it's essential to focus on various components of their fitness.

  • Hindlimb Strength: The hindlimb muscles, such as the gluteals, quadriceps, and hamstrings, are vital for propelling the dog forward during a gallop. These muscles generate power and provide the necessary thrust for quick acceleration.

  • Shoulder Strength: Well-developed shoulder muscles aid in maintaining balance and posture while sprinting. They also provide power and extension to the forelimbs, allowing for a strong push off the ground.

  • Core Strength: The abdominal muscles, including the rectus Abdominis and obliques, assist in stabilising the body and maintaining balance during the galloping motion. The back muscles, including the Erector Spinae and Longissimus Dorsi, stabilise and provide support during the galloping stride. They also aid in flexion and extension of the spine.

  • Body Awareness: This helps your dog understand how to move effectively, adjusting their body as needed for enhanced speed and agility.

  • Overall Mobility: Flexibility and range of motion in all joints are essential for achieving maximum stride length and overall speed.

Exercises to Increase Speed:

Now, let's explore 10 exercises that will help your canine athlete improve hindlimb strength, shoulder strength, core strength, body awareness, and overall mobility:

  1. Rockback Sit & Step To Stand - Progress To Pop Ups - hindlimb strength & mobility

  2. Pole Stepping - Progress To Mountain Climbers - hindlimb strength & mobility

  3. Lateral Hindlimb Taps - Progress To FPO Pivot - hindlimb strength & mobility

  4. Plank - For Advanced Dogs - hindlimb and core strength & mobility (must be progressed very gradually)

  5. Press Ups - Progress To Explosive Press Ups - forelimb and core strength & mobility

  6. Shoulder Dips - forelimb strength & mobility

  7. Lateral Forelimb Taps - Progress To Lateral Forelimb Hops - forelimb strength & mobility

  8. Down To Stand - Progress To Working This Exercise On An Incline - full body strength and mobility (when working on an incline will focus more on the limbs that are at the lower end of the incline)

  9. Cavaletti Trot - Progress To Include Collected & Extended Cavaletti - Fully body strength, mobility & Body Awareness

  10. Front Paw Targetting & Back Paw Taargetting - Progress To Individual Paws - Body Awareness

All of these exercises can be found on the Canine Fitness App if you need further guidance with them!

Improving your dog's speed doesn't just benefit their performance in canine sports; it also enhances their overall health and quality of life by increasing their fitness and musculature, further supporting their musculoskeletal system. By focusing on exercises that target hindlimb strength, shoulder strength, core strength, body awareness, and mobility, you can unlock your dog's full athletic potential.

Remember to consult with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer before implementing any new exercises into your dog's fitness regimen. Happy training, and may your dog become the speed demon they were born to be!

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