CRATE TIME – how much is too much?

Serious competitors spend many consecutive weekends away at trials.  This can be a great experience for the whole team, including travel companions that come along for the ride — and by travel companions, I mean both two and four legged companions.  

But traveling can be exhausting – whether it is a one-hour car ride or a four-hour car ride. Think of how you feel sitting for a long period of time. You may get stiff and sore from doing nothing but sitting.  Your body needs to move and get the circulation going. Your dog’s does, too.  I suggest stopping at least every ninety minutes to take the dogs out of their crates and stretch everyone’s legs.  If anyone has mobility problems, more frequent stops are recommended to promote blood circulation and prevent atrophy.  Yes – atrophy is one of the things that may happen. Atrophy or muscle loss may occur when a dog remains sedentary in a crate. With people, we know that three to five weeks of bed rest can result in up to a fifty percent loss of postural muscle strength.  That’s 1-3% a day — postural muscles, which ARE the core muscles. While we do not know the exact amount in dogs, it is safe to say there is a loss of core musculature with too much crate time. 

So, let’s take the team that is at an agility trial or a dog show. The dog and the person competing/showing may be getting more exercise through their various runs, classes or heats, but what about the other parts of the team.  Dogs along for the ride sitting in a crate or a confined space will suffer some consequences if they are not getting enough attention.  Trials and dog shows can be emotionally fatiguing for everyone, and many times a handler may get caught up in talking with others, resting, or just chilling at the hotel or in the RV after the trial.   This scenario is not good for either the human companions or the animal companions.  A three-day trial with an additional one day of travel each way, can result in minimal exercise for those involved, and can have detrimental consequences.  Think about how the crate time is affecting the dogs along for the ride, the ones you have been conditioning in preparation for future events.

I promise you, no diet, secret formula or special pill will make up for lack of exercise. There are many misconceptions that a certain food or supplement will put on muscle.  There are diets that will help build muscle, but there must be movement and actual muscle first. The things you CAN do to combat loss of muscle require moving and activity by the whole team.

Add in some simple core work at the hotel or RV.  Sit-to-stand, back down the hallway, standing still on the bed are all good core exercises.  Carry it even further by bringing along some TotoFit to work on.

What TotoFit product do you/would you take with you to make sure all your dogs get the exercise they need?

Always thinking about your dogs,

Dr. Debbie

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