Tag: DoThisInstead

12 Mar 2017

Functional alternative exercises for the core

By Laurie Edge-Hughes, BScPT, MAnimSt (Animal Physio.), CAFCI, CCRT


Subsequent to my blogs about ‘Don’t Sit Pretty’, I’ve been asked to provide alternatives to working the core in dogs.  I broke down some of my suggestions into three different categories – Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.  This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I did try to present a handful of functional and practical exercises.  And no, there is no research into conditioning exercises for dogs.  Unfortunately, there is a deplorable dearth of scientific information pertaining to sporting dogs in veterinary medicine.  One must also recognize that training the ‘core’ is just one small part of overall fitness.  That being said… here goes!

Core exercises for beginners

Cookies under the chest, at the front feet, at each rear foot.

Cookies under the chest   Cookies at front feet   Cookies at Rear Foot

High stepping (over obstacles or through deep snow, shallow water, or tall grass)

 Walking in tall grass    Obstacles

Walking with a theraband or bandage wrapped around the abdomen

Theraband Walk 

Stool standing (with all feet a bit closer together than normal)

Stool Standing 

Side sit-ups

Side Sit Ups

Walk the plank

Walk the Plank 

All 4-Legs standing on wobbly surface(s)

 Standing on Wobbly surface    Standing on Wobbly Surface 2

 3-Leg standing on a stable surface

 3-Leg Standing on Stable Surface


Core exercises for intermediates

3-leg standing with abdominal tapping

 3-Leg Standing with Abdominal Tapping

3-leg standing on a wobbly surface

3-Leg standing on Wobbly surface    3-Leg Standing on Peanut

Tug of war, forwards and backwards (straight line)

 Tug of War Straight

Diagonal-leg standing on a stable surface

 (under the body, progressing to away from the body, progressing to wiggling the legs)

 Diagonal Leg Stands Close    Diagonal Leg Stands with legs extended

 Stand and twist

 Standing twist

Advanced core exercises

X-leg standing with limbs stretched out on a wobbly surface

(under the body, progressing to away from the body, progressing to wiggling the legs)

   Diagonal Leg Standing on Wobbly Surface

Plank on a solid (elevated) surface – moving farther apart

 Plank on blocks

Plank on an unstable surface – moving farther apart

 Wobbly Plank

Tug of war – aggressive & side to side

Aggressive Tug of War 

General activity that can build the core



Hiking (hills)

Playing Goalie 

Playing soccer

Wrestling on the ground with another dog


And THAT should be enough to guide you through some functional alternative core strengthening exercises.  Be sure to also address global and limb-specific strengthening, power, speed, agility, skill training, reaction times, cardiovascular training, and coordination as well!  Have fun!  

Cheers,  Laurie 




link to this post | email a friend

Blog Categories:
Blog Archives: