There are many simple exercises that can be performed on the Toto Fit K-9 Kore Disk – it is an extremely versatile piece of equipment and appropriate for older dogs, puppies, dogs with osteoarthritis, overweight dogs, sporting dogs, and dogs in need of overall strengthening. It may be utilized on many levels: from dogs who are comfortable walking only a few feet to dogs who need to work and be active up to eight hours a day.
For some dogs, stepping onto the K-9 Kore Disk will be their actual first step on core strengthening equipment, so a safe and comfortable introduction is necessary. There are dogs who will need to take their time becoming familiar with the Disk. Since these products are free of latex and phthalates, you can feel comfortable placing treats on the Disk so the dog can eat off of it. Taking a few steps on and off is a great start and this may be done with or without the Disk Base, although the Base will increase the stability. In addition, the two sides of the Disk allow for different challenge levels. Both sides will help prevent slipping, but for the dog requiring more traction, the side with the ‘bumps’ will increase stability the most. This may be more appropriate for dogs with hip or elbow dysplasia, balance issues, older dogs, and puppies. Of course, both sides may be used for all dogs.
Small dogs or puppies may stand with all 4 feet on the disk as long as their topline is flat (parallel to the ground). If the dog’s back is arched when all 4 feet are on the disk, it means the dog is too big to do this. Performing exercises with an arched or dipped topline is not healthy for the dog’s spine.
When the dog’s front feet are on the disk, the weight is increased on the hindlimbs. This would be a good position for dogs with hindlimb weakness associated with conditions such as hip dysplasia, cruciate and stifle disease, neurological issues of the hindlimb, and soft tissue injuries such as iliopsoas problems—with your individual rehab practitioner’s approval. Since the Kore Balance Disk is an unstable surface, you are working the core and front legs, too, as the dog uses muscles to maintain its balance. Because you can alter the height of the K-9 Kore Disk by using it in or out of the base, it is a useful piece of equipment for many dogs. Basic Exercise Number Two involving lifting the head up and down can be done with the front feet on the Disk, while making sure the dog is maintaining an even topline: no roaches or dips!
When the dog’s back feet are up on the Disk with the front legs on a non-skid surface, such as a yoga mat, this increases the weight on the forelimbs. The slight instability of the back legs due to the movement of the balance disk also works on core muscles and hind leg strength as it challenges the front legs. In this position it will be important to watch the dog’s elbows. The elbows, in most breeds, should point straight back towards the dog’s knees or back legs. While the dog is standing with their back legs on the K-9 Kore Disk their elbows should be pointing back and their front feet forward. A sign of fatigue is when the elbows start to point out to the side or to the inside. If and when that happens, your dog is telling you it needs a break. If your dog cannot do this exercise on the K-9 Kore Disk, it is a good idea to go back to the FIVE BASIC EXERCSES on the ground that we discussed in a previous blog.
While working on either of these exercises, it will be important to focus on the quality of movement rather than the quantity. Asking the dog to hold the position for periods of time is the goal, as in our Basic Exercise Number One – Stand for 10 Seconds. Starting off with a few seconds and then building up for longer periods of time is the way to build strength. The dog may be fed with low calorie treats, commands, clicks or a combination to keep it focused and standing still. Your focus should always be on quality. For example, it is much better to perform eight good exercises, rather than ten exercises that are not in good form.
The K-9 Kore Disk may be used as part of Basic Exercise Number Four, walking backwards. Asking the dog to back up and put their hind feet on the Disk will teach body awareness, and work on strength, balance and proprioception of the hind limbs.
Sitting and trying to maintain stability is another simple way to build body core. The Sit-to-Stand Basic Exercise Three can also be done on the Kore Disk – larger dogs may need to have their front legs on the ground, while smaller dogs should be able to do this with all four legs on the disk.
And of course, side stepping or lateral movement, as demonstrated by the four month old Berner puppy in the video, is Basic Exercise Number Five, and easily done with the K-9 Kore Balance Disk.
ALWAYS bringing you back to the BASICS,
** You should always consult with a veterinarian before starting any exercise program with your dog.