I attended an interesting workshop in Denver a few weeks ago, taught by some of the nation’s leaders in the field of canine fitness. There we learned the importance of making sure a dog has a good foundation and proper form of any exercise before progressing on to a more difficult version of the exercise.
This means that your dog should know how to do the exercise properly so that he’s engaging his muscles, including his core so he builds the strength to be able to go on to a more difficult version of the exercise.
Have you noticed the way your dog sits? Look at this photo.
Notice how this young dog is sitting “side saddle?”
This incorrect sit is often due to laziness, or it can be a conformation issue and the dog is more comfortable sitting this way. It’s very common in young dogs, like this one.
What about this dog?
This dog is slightly cocked on one hip, but notice the front legs. They lean toward the hip the dog is sitting on. Another incorrect sit, and may be caused by arthritis, or years of habit.
Here’s Toby’s dog Beau.
He’s sitting better than the ones above, but his front legs are wider at the shoulder than at his paws, and his hind legs are splayed out at the knees a bit more than they should.
Now here’s Miles.
He has the best form of all. Not perfect but his front legs are pretty straight and his knees and rear feet point forward.
Because in order to do a sit correctly, a dog has to work to hold his rear legs in, point his knees and feet forward, and have a flat back and a straight, forward facing front end. It’s much easier to be lazy and sit incorrectly.
But that does nothing to help your dog become fit!
Once your dog masters a proper sit on the ground, you can increase difficulty by teaching your dog to “sit pretty” where his front legs are off the ground, or you can move to unstable surfaces where the exercise is much more challenging.
Take a look at this dog!
A great sit on a difficult piece of equipment!