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Dog Posture Assessment: To design the best exercise program for pain and longevity

 

The first step to treating our dogs is sharpening our eyes.  Seeing their posture and how it deviates from normal.  This will help us think critically when doing the exercises. It helps us know if we are getting the desired effect.  However what is normal or abnormal posture can be tricky to differentiate.

 

Posture is based on how the brain interprets the body.  The information about the dogs body is gathered from his eyes, inner ear, paws, as well as the amount of stretch in the muscles and connective tissue in the body.  That information is sent to the brain where a very complex process of filtering takes place. 


Pressure, pain, strength, flexibility, collectively further regulate posture.  Pressure is largely regulated by the way air moves through the chest cavity creating pressure gradients that move our dogs forward back and side to side.  Pain can impact where our dogs shift their weight, impacting how they posture.  Weakness or inactivity in the core and postural muscles can alter joint positions significantly.  Flexibility can also impact the way a dog stands or moves based on the ability of muscles or connective tissue to lengthen.  But underlying it all there is something even more basic.

 

That more basic thing is an asymmetrical organ structure and asymmetrical diaphragm. This mismatch of sides of the body causes the right and left sides to move slightly differently. This internal asymmetry in the middle of our dogs is the most basic postural chaos that needs to be harnessed.  Our posture assessments must be placed in this context. 


This context leads us back to our initial question: What is normal posture? A normal dog does not have a straight spine or paws placed next to each other. Normal dogs muscles will not have equal tension on the left and right in each muscle group of the body. A sharpened eye sees these differences and realizes asymmetry is normal. And normal is not bad. Asymmetry is not bad.


The exercises we do at Dog House Rehab are designed to harness the imbalances that the asymmetrical dog lives with. The goal is to avoid too much or too little stress on any part of the body. Decreasing overuse injuries, improving the dynamics of the joints, managing abnormal stress on spinal discs to name just a few of the benefits. The initial step is understanding the dogs posture and viewing it through the lens of asymmetry.

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