Stretching is extremely important. It increases your flexibility, range of motion, helps you recover from injuries, and so much more. The same holds true for dogs. Obviously, dogs have differently shaped bodies than we do, which means they require different stretching techniques.
Before learning about the stretches, keep a few things in mind. Consistency is key. Shoot for a few minutes each day instead of one long session during the week. Always stretch your dog slowly and gently—never quickly or with jerky motions. If your dog shows signs of discomfort, adjust your method accordingly. Perform stretches in a quiet place where your dog feels comfortable.
As your dog ages, stretching becomes more important than ever, particularly if your dog suffers from arthritis. With any exercise, particularly with older or arthritic dogs, be sure to consult your vet first.
Now, let us begin!
Hip flexor stretch
With your dog standing, grasp one of his back legs just above the knee. Slowly move the leg back so it is positioned out behind the body. When you reach the point of resistance—where moving the leg back farther would use pressure—stop and hold the position for 15-30 seconds. Repeat two or three times for each back leg.
It helps increase the mobility of the hips, spine, and improves the condition of the lower back to decrease pain associated with arthritis.
This one is similar to the hip flexor stretch, but for the front legs. With your dog standing, grasp one of his front legs just above the elbow. Place your other hand underneath the elbow to stabilize it. Slowly move the front leg so it is positioned out in front of your dog’s body. When you reach the point of resistance, stop, and hold the leg in position for 15-30 seconds. Repeat two or three times with the other front leg.
Helps improve range of motion in the shoulders, chest, and upper back; increases breathing capacity and reduces pain associated with arthritis.
This one requires treats! Grab a handful of goodies and with your dog standing, move to one side of his body. Now, with the treats in your hand where he can see them, move your hand slowly along his body, from his face toward his tail. Encourage him to follow the treats with his eyes, turning only his head. This will require him to bend his body into a C shape. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds. Then reward him with a treat. Repeat two to three times on each side.
It helps improve spinal mobility and decreases pain associated with arthritis.