In this exercise we explore some wonderful exercises to mentally and physically stimulate our pups with the main goal of developing rear end awareness.
Dogs don't have much natural rear end awareness and, if not taught, it can cause them to be out of balance when performing certain basic body movements and exercises. In any activity like jumping and turning they need the rear portion of their body to follow through with the activity they are doing for proper form to avoid stresses and strains and potential injuries.
A dog that doesn’t have good rear end awareness often appears to be a little gangly, the dog may fall or miss his step often, all of which can lead to small internal injuries of the joints, muscles and/or connective tissue. Over time, this can lead to more serious injuries, causing pain and discomfort to your dog along with time and money spent on the care and treatment of the injury.
All dogs benefit from having a good awareness of where the back feet, legs and rear portion of their body is at and it’s especially important for any sort of activity or dog sport where the dog may be jumping or turning at speed.
In this exercise we explore some really fun training activities you can do with your dog to not only help improve rear end awareness but also increase the bond between you both, build confidence and make sure your furry friend keeps fit and healthy!
1. Paws On, Bottoms Up
We’ve already taught our dog to put his front paws up on a balance disk or similar bowl or box (Paws On). This in itself is a good exercise as it shifts weight to the rear limbs and engages the core muscles.
Now we can build on this behaviour and teach him there are two more feet back there!
2. Back Up
Teaching your dog to back up is a great way to improve rear end awareness! It also opens the door for several other impressive tricks and exercises you can do with your dog! The key is to be patient and take the time your dog needs to back up straight!
Once he has the hang of backing up just a few steps we can combine walking backwards with the Bottoms Up exercise as shown in the video. We can walk the dog gently forward off the disk and then by carefully placing the treats nearer the disk we can teach him to walk backwards back on to the platform. This really gets that doggie brain thinking!
3. Pivoting on a balance disk or perch
Pivoting is one of my favourite exercises – we’re going to teach your dog to keep his front feet on the disk and pivot around with his hind feet.
Pivoting is beloved by obedience trainers as it helps the dog learn to turn very precisely.
In obedience competitions when you do a 180 degree turn you have to turn very precisely and walk exactly the same line back.
That aside, this is also a fantastic physical exercise for your dog. Not only does it improve hind and awareness it also strengthens the core and abductor and adductor muscles of the pelvic limbs and aids in the development of the small stabiliser muscles used when turning. Remember to teach this in both directions to ensure good balance and awareness both ways.