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Jazz – Achilles Rehab – Part III

Dr. Kerry Fisher - Jazz - Achilles Rehab

Dr. Kerry Fisher – Jazz – Achilles Rehab

How to Strengthen the Hind End of a Dog?

Labradors – one of the Breeds that Never Quit

Remember Jazz? She injured her Achilles tendon awhile back, underwent canine physical therapy for the acute injury. She also has bilateral stifle (knee) arthritis. She’s now ‘enrolled’ in a canine exercise program to strengthen her back, core and hind legs. She is a hunting Labrador who doesn’t know she has chronic issues. During exercises I work with her to learn to ‘Slow Down’ so we can obtain good form.

 Why is it Important to Strengthen her Hind Legs?

Most dogs walk around using primarily their front legs – the hind legs just follow along. Jazz needs to strengthen her Gluteals, Hamstrings, and Quads. I am gradually helping her relearn to sit in a normal sit position. Muscle weakness, decreased stifle and hock joint range of motion, decreased neuromuscular input and lack of awareness add up to a very abnormal sit position. This will take some time to retrain. By strengthening her hind legs I hope to help Jazz obtain a more normal sit position, decrease compensatory body movements due to her injuries, decrease back pain and prevent future injuries.

 How to Strengthen a Dog’s Hind Legs? Elevate Front Legs!

What does elevating the front legs do? This adds body weight to Jazz’s hind legs causing the entire hind end muscle groups to work harder. Jazz is dynamically strengthening her hind end through exercises. This is done by using FitPAWS balance equipment (which also works her core muscles) and the DogTread Canine Treadmill.

 Working with FitPaws Balance Pad & DogTread

I created a chute out of 2 4×4’s helping guide Jazz to obtain more correct neuromuscular input while retraining a correct sit. Initially I want Jazz to ‘Get the Game’: walking into the chute rather than on top of the 4×4’s. Next she stands with front feet elevated on the Balance Pad. Next Jazz moves to standing with front feet on the side of the Canine Treadmill, and then backs down onto the Balance Pad. Jazz is having a great time with the clicker, treats and working out. We do about 10 reps of this exercise, add a Sit to Stand in here and there (due to her issues, I actually prefer a Squat to Stand), and then give her a rest.

 Remember to Warm Up and Cool Down Rehab Patients

Jazz warmed up & cooled down with 10 minute walks on the DogTread Treadmill.

 Jazz has a DEADLINE:

Pheasant hunting by October.


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Dr-Kerry_FisherAbout the Author: Kerry Fisher, DVM, CCRP ~ your Canine Fitness Expert. Throughout her career as a veterinarian, Dr. Fisher has focused on “Pre-hab and Rehab” for animals, pioneering therapeutic & conditioning exercises with FitPAWS Equipment. She owns Canine Rehab ~ Canine Fitness Unleashed!, a Colorado based Canine Gym with Injury Prevention and Canine Rehabilitation services. She has a passion for and experience with Sports Medicine for sporting, search & rescue, performance, working and hunting dogs. Dr. Kerry also has unique concepts for working with senior canine fitness, weight management, pain management, and behavior modification through exercise. She provides educational hands-on seminars and workshops worldwide. Do you want to take your dog’s fitness to another level? Let’s Get in Touch for a Fitness Assessment and Coaching for your dog. Dr. Kerry uses the DogTread Treadmill-Gait4Dog integrated software system for early Lameness Detection and monitoring the progress your dog is making during the course of rehabilitation. Injury prevention is key! Dr. Fisher is an athlete herself, enjoying endurance triathlons, mountain biking, bicycle touring, backpacking and telemark skiing. She biked, camped and toured 4,000 miles across the Northern Tier of the USA with her yellow Labrador, Mr. Mitchell. 2015 brings some challenging events to her plate: Ironman Arizona (140.6 mile event) and Leadville 100 mountain bike race (103 mile race at 10,000 feet+ elevation). As founder of Grit Gals, Kerry blogs to share her training tactics for these intense races. Human Fitness and Canine Fitness intertwined – to help you and your dogs reach your goals.


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