Stretching is great for relieving tension and muscle kinks and reduces chance of injury. Some experts suggest that stretching is excellent for warming up muscles before exercising. However, there is some research that suggest stretching immediately before exercise has little effects on the incidence of injury and may even be detrimental to performance. It suggests that dog stretches should be done immediately after exercise as part of a cool down routine. After exercise the muscles, tendons and ligaments are warmed up and therefore flexible and amenable to stretching. Whether stretching your dog before or after exercise, stretching should never be done on cold muscles. Always do some warm up, like a 10 to 15 minute walk. These are 3 active stretches that can help your dog with flexibility and injury prevention
Nose to Toes Dog Stretches
This resembles a toe touch warm up in humans. Have you dog stand. and entice him by holding a treat near the ground between and behind his front paws. The first time you can extend your hand upward between and behind his front paws. The idea is to get your dog to reach his head between his front legs. This will stretch his muscles along his spine and the muscles of the dorsal(back side of the neck).
Look Up Dog Stretches
This exercise can be mostly done standing but is also effective sitting. Position yourself in front of your dogs and hold a treat above him enticing him to reach his nose up. This exercise stretches the ventral muscles of the neck and those of the chest.
Lateral Dog Stretches
A lateral stretch is a stretch to the side. This stretches the muscles of the neck, shoulders and trunk. It is important to stabilize your dog so he remains still during the stretch. With a small dog you can place your hand on the hip opposite the direction you want the dog to stretch. A medium or large dog can be stabilized by standing next to him with your leg against his rear hip and leg.
Reach in front of your dog with a treat or toy and get his attention. Use your hand or leg to stabilize your dog and guide his head toward his back end leading with the treat or toy. Stabilizing with your hand or leg gets your dog to stretch towards the rear, but keeps him from circling. Repeat this exercise on your dogs’ other side. As your dog follows your hand and reaches to the rear he stretches the muscles of the neck, shoulder, rib cage and trunk.
The benefit the dog gets from stretching comes from your ability to entice him to hold the stretch. The first few times you try these stretches with you dog, they should last at least 5 seconds. The goal is to hold these for 10 to 15 seconds.
Dog stretching can also help prevent injuries.