Aquatic conditioning is a term that refers to using the properties of water. Working with dogs in water is often done with dogs that have been injured, or have gone through surgery. We have taken a different approach and use the properties of water to help assist and prepare the puppies body for the many skeletal and muscular changes their bodies face, especially in the first eighteen months of their lives.
Core strength training is very important to us as humans, and many do not realize how core stability is just as critical to our dogs as well. Back and stomach muscles of the dog support the rib cage that contain vital organs, the muscles control stability and movement, and also transfer energy back and forth through the body.
Muscles work by contracting, the more they contract, the stronger they get. We expose the puppy to various exercise techniques taking place in different depths of the water. Gravity is eliminated in deeper water and we use buoyancy assisted exercise in shallow water.
Buoyancy is the upward push of water on a body that decreases the weight of a body or limb while immersed. Hydrostatic pressure is the pressure around the body the deeper you are in the water. This provides constant pressure and can provide a benefit for puppies that are sore due to growing pains. Resistance is greater in water than air therefore making it challenging to move the body or limb. Water resistance can help strengthen muscles and it also improves the puppy’s balance and stability.
Using the life vest on and off of the puppy to change the shallow water effects and reduce body weight. The degree and effect the water has on the puppy is based on the speed and direction that we move the raft on the water. All of this is strengthening the core muscles so important to our puppy.
Controlling the temperature of the water also allows us to invigorate a puppy’s muscles to contract more, or sooth them to relax. We also vary the time an exercise is conducted and a position held. This can vary from 30-60-90 seconds per exercise.