When building a strengthening program, teaching a dog to stand still is the first priority— i.e., planting all four paws and keeping them still regardless of physical or mental forces or distractions. If a dog cannot stand still, they will not be able to move along with a successful exercise program whether the ultimate goal is conformation or agility.** Every activity a dog participates in requires static, or “standing-still” strength BEFORE working towards dynamic strengthening movements.
Try this yourself: Plant your feet firmly on the ground about 12” apart and gently rock your weight back and forth while keeping your feet in place. Now do the same while allowing your feet to come off the ground (when you shift left, your right foot comes up and visa-versa). In which exercise do you feel your core muscles working the most? Which exercise requires more core muscle control? THIS is why your dog needs to Stand Still with all four paws on the ground while performing weight shifting exercises — to get the most benefit out of the activity .
Many owners are surprised when their ‘top’ competitive dogs cannot stand still for ten seconds—and while this is often inherent in the breed and a positive with regard to the job the dog was bred to do, it’s not conducive to building core muscles efficiently. These dogs may have wonderful Type II or dynamic strength, but they are lacking the core strength needed to successfully continue in their career with minimal injuries.
Competition dogs should ultimately be able to stand on an uneven surface for at least thirty seconds, up to three to five times in a row. It may not be the most exciting exercise but it is one of the most important!
Initially, work on having your dog stand still on a flat surface. This may be performed any place or anywhere. Standing still for ten seconds on a walk, before eating, before going outside, etc., is something anyone can incorporate into a a daily routine. Or it can be part of your basic training, such as an obedience ‘stand for exam’ or a rally ‘stand and walk around.’ Whether it is a pup, athletic dog, or a super senior, this is something simple any dog can do.
Standing Still on the Ground: once the dog places itself in a comfortable position, it should be able to hold that position without moving its paws for 10, 20, 30 seconds.
Standing Still on the Disk: progressions will include uneven surfaces, such as a K-9 Kore Disk or BISkit. Work with one piece of equipment, then two, and then increase the time and incorporate some simple weight shifting motions: play touch, luring with food, etc.
** A dog who is not comfortable due to a conformation issue, pain, or weakness will often shift their weight from leg to leg to unweight a specific limb. If you suspect this is the case, please have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian. All owners should consult with a veterinarian before starting any exercise program with their dog.
Blog Post by TotoFit LLC