Archive for the ‘C – Conditioning’ Category

Cabin Fever? Here’s a days worth of activities…….

Thursday, June 25th, 2015


Biggest Loser Winner: Lucy

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

At the end of September, the Colorado Sheltie Rescue got a Sheltie into Rescue that was significantly overweight to the point of being morbidly obese. This poor thing came into Rescue at 69 pounds and should be 28-29 pounds. Lucy is her name. We don’t know how Lucy came to be so fat. We suspect a lack of exercise, poor food choices (as in poor quality), scraps being fed from the table, and free feeding (instead of two single meals a day).

As with every Sheltie that comes into rescue, they are given a full vet health screening, checkup, along with blood work to ensure their health. The vet determined that she was morbidly obese and needed to lose 25 pounds immediately and a total of 40 pounds for optimum health. The 25 pound weight loss was just to get her to the point that she could get a dental. She couldn’t breathe properly with all the extra weight, which would have caused significant issues while under anesthesia for the dental, including a possibility of death. Her weight also caused problems with her hips, knees, and other joints of her body. Her body was already starting to deteriorate under all this extra weight. In addition, the blood work showed that she was low hypothyroid. She was immediately put on a prescription diet dog food (Purina OM) and on thyroid medication. The rescue kept her for a little while since she was at a high risk of heart failure due to her weight. Once it was determined that it would be safe for her to start the weight loss program, she was sent to me to get the weight off her.

I’m the foster home that gets the fat dogs, the special needs dogs, and the puppy mill dogs and on occasion, get a healthy, happy, fun dog to foster (but those get adopted quick).  Here is Lucy’s story/blog of her weight loss journey.



10/24/14 – arrive at Skinner Fat Camp

Starting weight to Skinner Fat Camp = 68 pounds

My new foster dog and my new weight loss project! Lucy checked into the Skinner Fat Camp at 68 pounds. She should be 28-29 pounds. She’s on a strict diet of low-calorie food (3/4 cup twice a day of OM), veggies as “treats”, and lots of walks/exercise to lose almost 40 pounds. She is a sweet girl! It will be a challenge, but I think she’s up to it! Look how small her head is compared to the rest of that big body!

She didn’t eat all her food today. I put the bowl down and she ate a couple of kernels and walked away. So, I picked up the food. She’ll learn to eat when the food is given to her. This makes me think she was free fed if she thinks she can just go back to the bowl whenever she wants to.


10/25/14 – walked .50 miles – Lucy did really good! She LOVES to go for walks, so this is going to be easier than I thought. Most of the fat dogs that come to me have bodies that are so severely damaged by their weight and the arthritis that they can’t go very far on walks. So, this is a pleasant surprise. I won’t walk her every day to make sure there are no injuries to set us back.

She didn’t eat all her food again (at both meals). She’ll learn…

10/26/14 – walked .75 miles – no issues. She INHALED every last kernel of her food this morning. I don’t think there will be any more issues with that.

10/27/14 – walked .75 miles – no issues

10/28/14 – no walk today – rest break

10/29/14 – walked .75 miles – no issues

10/30/14 – no walk today – rest break


Week 1 weight = 65 pounds

That’s 3 pounds in 7 days! 3 down and 36 to go! Great start girl! Walked .75 miles – no issues

11/1/14 – no walk today – rest break

11/2/14 – walked .75 miles – no issues

11/3/14 – no walk today – rest break

11/4/14 – walked .75 miles – no issues. I think I’m going to increase the distance. She seems to be doing very well at this distance.

11/5/14 – walked .82 miles – no issues

11/6/14 – no walk today – rest break


Week 2 weight = 62 pounds

That’s 6 pounds in two weeks! 6 down and 33 to go! Keep it up girl! She’s doing so good!

11/8/14 – walked .85 miles – no issues

11/9/14 – walked .85 miles – no issues

11/10/14 – no walk today – too cold. I cut back her food a little today since we couldn’t walk today.

11/11/14 – no walk today – heavy snow. I cut back her food a little today to compensate for the lack of exercise.

11/12/14 – no walk today – too much snow. Again, I cut back the food.

11/13/14 – no walk today – too much snow


Week 3 weight = 62 pounds

No weight loss this week. Sadly, due to weather and super severe cold, not as many walks this week. We missed the last four days of exercise. We’ll get back on track this week!

11/15/14 – walked .85 miles – no issues

11/16/14 – walked .85 miles – no issues

11/17/14 – no walk today – rest break

11/18/14 – walked .85 miles – no issues. I’m going to increase the distance a little more.

11/19/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues

11/20/14 – no walk today – rest break


Week 4 weight = 60 pounds

Two pounds this week! Good job Lucy! She’s such a sweet and happy girl. I can’t wait to see her personality even more when she’s skinny. Walked 1 mile – no issues.

11/22/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues

11/23/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues

11/24/14 – no walk today – rest break

11/25/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues

11/26/14 – no walk today – rest break

11/27/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues


Week 5 weight = 57.5 pounds

Two and a half pounds this week! Great job Lucy! That’s 10.5 pounds in 5 weeks! Me, on the other hand, after two Thanksgiving Day dinners, I need to get on Lucy’s weight loss program. Walked 1.1 mile – no issues

11/29/14 – walked 1.10 miles – no issues

11/30/14 – walked 1.10 miles – no issues

12/1/14 – no walk today – rest break

12/2/14 – no walk today – rest break

12/3/14 – walked 1.12 miles – no issues

12/4/14 – no walk today – rest break


Week 6 weight = 56.5 pounds

Only one pound this week. At least it’s in the right direction. Going down! Walked 1.10 miles – no issues

12/6/14 – walked 1.20 miles – no issues

12/7/14 – no walk today – rest break

12/8/14 – no walk today

12/9/14 – walked 1.0 miles – no issues

12/10/14 – walked .5 miles – no issues

12/11/14 – no walk today – rest break


Week 7 weight = 55 pounds
One and a half pounds this week! Great work Lucy! Walked 1.2 miles – no issues.

12/13/14 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues

12/14/14 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues

12/15/14 – no walk today – rest break

12/16/14 – walked 1.20 miles – no issues

12/17/14 – no walk today – rest break

12/18/14 – walked 1.20 miles today – no issues 


Week 8 weight = 54 pounds

Doing great Lucy! One more pound this week! That’s 14 pounds in 8 weeks! She’s already feeling better. She now fits through the dog door and is enjoying the outside more! No walk today – rest break

12/20/14 – walked 1.20 miles – no issues

12/21/14 – walked 1.20 miles – no issues

12/22/14 – no walk today – rest break

12/23/14 – no walk today – too much snow

12/24/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues

12/25/14 – walked 1 mile – no issues


Week 9 weight = 52.2 pounds

1.8 pounds lost this week! Woo hoo! Nice work Lucy! She’s getting so playful in the backyard. She gets the zoomies with Wiggins chasing each other all over. I can’t wait to see how energetic she is when she the weight she’s supposed to be! She’s going to be crazy fast! Lucy is getting very agile by jumping up on the couch and making herself very comfortable! She’s still got a long way to go, but she’s obviously feeling better already! Walked 1.2 miles – no issues


12/27/14 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues. I increased the distance a little more. She’s doing so well. She could probably go much farther, but we are taking it slow and easy to increase the distance walked.

12/28/14 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues

12/29/14 – no walk today – rest break – too cold

12/30/14 – no walk today – too cold

12/31/14 – no walk today – too cold

Lucy has a forever home! Someone wants to adopt Lucy, but they can’t take her home until she loses her extra weight and until she can get a dental. They are former adopters with experience with overweight dogs, so she couldn’t go to a more perfect home when she’s ready. Good news for Lucy!

1/1/15 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues


Week 10 weight = 51.2 pounds

Walked 1.25 miles today – no issues

Tough week this week because it has been so very cold. We missed walks on three days. She still lost a pound though! Great job Lucy!

1/3/15 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues

1/4/15 – walked 1.25 miles – no issues

1/5/15 – no walk today – rest break

1/6/15 – walked 1 mile today – no issues. We tried something new today. I’m trying to get more weight off her a little faster since she now has a forever home to go to. However, I still want to be careful of walking her too far and hurting her joints and knees. So, I brought her with me to CRCG, so she could try out the underwater treadmill. Dare swam while she walked in the treadmill. She wasn’t so excited about it at first, but then just rolled on like a champion!


1/7/15 – no walk today – rest break

1/8/15 – walked 1.5 miles today – no issues


Week 11 weight – 49.2 pounds

Lucy is under 50 pounds! Woo Hoo!!! She lost two pounds this week. We are almost half way there! I think the underwater treadmill worked great this week! Walked 1.5 miles today – no issues

1/10/15 – walked 1.5 miles today – no issues

1/11/15 – no walk today – rest break

1/12/15 – walked 3.0 miles today – no issues. She was driving me crazy while I leashed up my other dogs for their walk, so I just brought her along with me on their walk too. She did very well and didn’t lag behind or get tired at all during the second walk.

1/13/15 – walked 1.5 miles today and walked on the underwater treadmill for 15 minutes. She did GREAT!

1/14/15 – no walk today – rest break

1/15/15 – walked 1.7 miles – no issues


Week 12 weight = 47.4 pounds

Lucy is half way to her weight loss goal! She’s lost 20.6 pounds! She’s got 18.4 pounds to go! Woo hoo! No walk today – rest break (plus I was injured)

1/17/15 – no walk today – foster mom injured L

1/18/15 – walked 2.25 miles – no issues

1/19/15 – walked 2.25 miles – no issues – Vet visit for a checkup today! Lucy got her blood checked to make sure things are still going OK and the vet checked her over too. He was very impressed with her weight loss! He said she didn’t have labored breathing like she did when she was first surrendered to rescue (at 69 pounds), so he felt comfortable giving her a dental. So, she’s lost a total of 21.3 pounds in 12 weeks!

1/20/15 – no walk today – dental procedure

1/21/15 – no walk today – too much snow

1/22/15 – no walk today – too much snow


Week 13 weight = 46.7 pounds

Tough week this week and not much walking. I couldn’t walk for a couple days (injury), then we were able to walk a couple days, then Lucy got a dental, and then it snowed like CRAZY. So, we only walked two days this week. At least she lost a little weight and didn’t go up! Walked 1.5 miles today – no issues

1/24/15 – walked 3 miles today and walked on the underwater treadmill – no issues. She was a little tired tonight, but she wasn’t limping or sore in any way.

1/25/15 – walked 3 miles today – no issues

1/26/15 – walked 3 miles today – no issues

1/27/15 – walked 2 miles today – no issues. Lucy also walked on the underwater treadmill for 15 minutes. No issues. She’s pretty sleepy tonight though.

1/28/15 – no walk today – rest break

1/29/15 – walked 2.7 miles – no issues


Week 14 weight = 45.2 pounds

Good week this week! Lucy has walked extra miles and hasn’t had any adverse side effects. She loves to go for walks and is really enjoying them! She gets so excited when I pick up the leash. She is running around like crazy in the back yard too. 16.2 more pounds to go to her goal weight!

She tried something new today! Lucy went swimming! The underwater treadmills were shut down for the day, so Dr. Washington tried Lucy in the endless pool. She swam for only 6 minutes since it was her first time swimming, but she did GREAT! Dr. Washington said that she was a strong swimming and had to hold her back a little bit. When we got home, we went for a 2.5 mile walk and had no issues. She is loving the exercise now!

Lucy7 Lucy8Lucy9

The Importance of Gait

Thursday, December 4th, 2014


Years ago I was getting a mini poodle ready for the excellent level of Rally-Obedience. He
needed to learn to heel backward. He had a beautiful forward heel. I assumed that it would
be easy to teach the backward heel. I was wrong. My error — I plunged head long into
teaching a skill without first making sure the dog could physically do what I was asking.
Rodeo was missing both the core strength and body awareness required to move
backward. It took several frustrating training sessions before I realized my mistake. If a dog
cannot physically do what you are trying to train, then you are training something else. In
this case, I taught Rodeo to hop backward from the sit, he looked more like a drunken frog
than a dog.

Building core strength and body awareness isn’t just for dogs in competition. All dogs
benefit from this approach to training.

Now I have an exercise and training schedule for each of my dogs. I spend time building
core strength and body awareness before I start working on specific training goals. I keep a
careful watch to make sure the dog can physically do what I am training, and I’m always
ready to adjust if things aren’t going as planned.

This is Quill, he is an 18 month old rough collie. He is a love of a dog and is very easily
distracted. We are working on sustained focus, both stationary and when moving. He is
learning to look up at me while moving forward. With limited distraction he is getting pretty
good. This photograph was taken near the start of a training session last weekend. He is
off leash and can track straight for about 30 feet before I risk losing his attention.


The photograph below was taken about 15 minutes later. Do you see the difference?


I still have Quill’s attention. His head is exactly where I want it. He is carrying his head in
almost the exact same position as the photo before, but something has changed. Quill is
no longer trotting, he is pacing. His right front leg and right rear leg are moving forward at
the same time. Once his right side hits the ground he will push off and then his whole left
side will move forward in unison. The pace is not a desired gait in the dog, at least not the
collie. There are several breeds where a pacing gait is more common and in the show ring
not faulted.

Why is Quill pacing, why does it matter and what should I do about it?

Dogs pace for a number of reasons. Structure, fitness, fatigue, injury or disease can cause
a dog to pace. A handler’s step can also cause this gait.

What is the most likely cause for Quill’s incorrect gait? The most logical explanation — weak
core muscles and a slow handler. Quill is a growing dog. The schedule I have mapped out
for him must not be meeting his needs. I need to add more to each workout. I also need to
change how I am moving. I’m short and I really need to move forward to match Quill’s naturally long step. I may be moving too slowly, causing Quill to slow down and start pacing.

There are several reasons I need to address this. First, this gait can quickly become a fixed
motor pattern. If I continued to practice ‘head up — focus on me’ without addressing the
pacing gait, the two behaviors could quickly become linked together. I believe I’m teaching
sustained focus with head up. Quill believes the cue for ‘head up — focus on me’ also
means to pace. The second reason this must be addressed is for Quill’s physical well being.
When a dog is pacing, his center of gravity is shifting from side to side. This puts undue
stress on his spine.

So what’s the plan? How am I going to fix this problem? First I will figure out how much of
my motion is causing Quill to pace. Handler behavior has a huge influence on canine
behavior. Maybe I simply need to move faster. I will also increase Quill’s strengthening
workouts. Moving faster might solve the issue for a time, but eventually I’ll have to slow
down and Quill will need to have the muscle strength to move with my shorter step. I don’t
think this issue is very old, so addressing Quill’s core fitness and my speed might solve the

Figure 8 Stretch

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014


9 Ways To Help Your Dog Age Well

Thursday, September 4th, 2014


1) Walk Backwards

Kneel with your dog between you and a wall, put one hand under their belly to keep them from sitting (not to support their weight). With the other hand, use a treat to lure their nose to their chest and help them to move backwards (or put gentle pressure on their chest if that doesn’t get them to back up). Have them walk backwards a few feet, once or twice a day to help build hamstring strength.

20140902_180033 20140902_180219

2) Warm or Cool Compress

If a joint or limb seems particularly painful, place the compress on the area for 5-10 minutes to help with pain relief.  For a warm compress, put rice in a sock and microwave until warm. For a cool compress, use a bag of frozen corn or peas (whatever you currently have in your freezer).

3) Side Steps

Stand perpendicular to your dog, place one hand on their collar (so they don’t go anywhere), place your knee/leg on their flank, and your hand on the other side to keep them pressed against you. Then slowly step into your dog to get them to shift their weight away from you and take a step. Make sure to repeat on the other side.

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4) Walk

Try to take your dog out for a walk at least once a day, even if it’s a really short one (either because of your busy schedule or your dog’s physical limitations).  Regular exercise helps keep bones and muscles healthy and every little bit counts (even if it’s just down the driveway and back!).

5) Sit to Stands

Ask your dog to sit. Be sure they’re sitting squarely so their back paws are facing forwards and they’re not lounging on one hip or the other. Ask them to stand on all 4s from the seated position. And repeat! Doggy squats!

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6) Diagonal Leg Lift

Gently lift the front leg and opposite back leg at the same time and hold for 3-5 seconds. Hold the wrist in front of the shoulder, and the ankle behind the hip so they can’t bear weight through you–they have to balance themselves. Repeat with the opposite two legs.

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7) Couch Walks

Take a cushion off your couch and have your dog walk across, or have them stand on it while they eat dinner. This is a core exercise and will help with balance.


8) Trim Nails

Keep your dog’s toe nails and toe fur trimmed to help with slipping and difficulty on hard floors.  Throw rugs, yoga mats, and dog boots/socks with good grip can help also.

9) Range of Motion

Anytime your dog is relaxed, with open hands, gently guide your dog’s limbs into flexion and extension to keep the joints healthy.

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**If your dog is having any issues or pain when doing these exercises, please consult your veterinarian, or contact us at (303) 762-SWIM.

Cookie Stretches

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014


Swimming vs. Hydrotherapy

Thursday, August 7th, 2014


Whether it’s the cold, dark depths of winter or the dog days of summer, a dip in the pool can buoy both bodies and spirits!  We all know that recreational swimming is great exercise for dogs.  It is also a fun and social activity for dogs and owners.  Not only that, it allows for a controlled environment that is beneficial both physically and physiologically.

For anyone who has been to a local lake or pond in the late summer months, it is not a surprise that an indoor swimming pool is a cleaner environment.  Lakes and ponds can spread bacteria, giardia and other undesirables to your dog.  Plus there’s no mud to track back to your car, house and your shoes!

The health benefits of recreational swimming are undeniable.  Swimming provides excellent cardiovascular conditioning and helps maintain muscle mass.   Swimming is a great weight control exercise and alleviates stress on the joints so that overweight dogs can get back into the swing of things while reducing risk of injury.

Swimming is an energy outlet, for sure.  A tired dog is a happy dog, and oftentimes a tired dog makes for a happy owner.  As in humans, swimming gets those endorphins going—which is great for overall well-being but it can also be therapeutic for behavioral disorders or for dogs that are just plain bored or tired of being cooped up in the house.

Swimming provides social benefits, as well.  Aerobic exercise can reduce depression in dogs that have exercise restrictions.  Of course, you’ll need approval from your veterinarian before starting a swimming exercise program.  Swimming can also boost confidence and it encourages dogs to learn from other dogs.

Perhaps most importantly, recreational swimming provides an opportunity to build the bond between dog and owner.  It’s a great way to spend time with your dog without distraction.  It’s a time to step away from the daily grind and spend one-on-one time with your pet and serves as a reminder of why pets are so important in our lives.  They give us so much and spending time with them is all they ask of us.

Now that we’ve covered the many benefits of swimming, let’s discuss the difference between swimming and hydrotherapy.  At our facilities, recreational swimming is for healthy dogs that enjoy water and have no physical issues that require supervision and assistance.  Hydrotherapy is utilized on the rehabilitation side to help dogs that have physical issues and, for their safety, require supervision by a rehabilitation therapist.  Our therapists are rehabilitation certified veterinarians, physical therapists and certified veterinary technicians.

The ultimate goal is to graduate the patient to the recreational pool and we release the dog from therapy when they are strong and healthy enough to swim recreationally.

Rehabilitating a dog with water has many benefits. One is decreased weight bearing and non-weight bearing exercise, which reduces pain. In the water, gentle range of motion of all four limbs is accomplished and strengthening is provided by the water resistance. The therapy water is heated to around 84 degrees Fahrenheit which helps to relax the muscles and increase circulation. Hydrotherapy is also used for neurological re-education. There seems to be psychological benefits for the dogs that occurs because they are able to exercise without pain.

Hydrotherapy is used for a variety of reasons including recovery from surgery, chronic conditions such as arthritis, degenerative myelopathy or hip dysplasia, obesity or weight management, or sports conditioning. The benefits of recreational swimming and hydrotherapy are both phenomenal. The important difference between the two is the state of your dog’s physical health. If your dog is generally healthy, by all means, get swimming! Just as with humans, staying active and keeping your muscles strong will help prevent injury in the future.

However, if your dog is injured or otherwise compromised, swimming may not be appropriate and hydrotherapy is necessary for them to get back into the game (or pool). If your dog has been diagnosed as having any of these health conditions, swimming may not be an appropriate form of exercise:

  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Seizure disorders
  • Endocrine diseases
  • Open wounds or infections
  • Fecal incontinence

If your dog has any of these conditions or if your dog is not otherwise in good health, we recommend a rehabilitation exam in order to determine if swimming and/or rehabilitation is best.

The Canine Rehabilitation and Conditioning Group (CRCG) offers year-round swimming 7 days a week at its Englewood and Broomfield locations.  Open and private swim times are available.  Rehabilitation is offered 7 days a week.  Give us a call or visit our website at for more information on our services and find out how you and your canine companion can start making a splash!

3 Important Reasons to Warm Up & Cool Down with your Dog

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Warm-Up Infographic-01

The Importance of Weight Management

Friday, June 6th, 2014

The Importance of Weight Management

By: the CRCG Experts Richardson


Obesity rates in the United States continue to rise in children and adults. What is interesting and alarming is the parallel of increasing obesity in our furry companions. Approximately 52.5% of dogs and 58.3% of cats are overweight or obese in this country and the numbers appear to be rising. Carrying around this excess weight can have devastating effects on their health, longevity, functional mobility and pain.

Weight gain is serious enough in and of itself, but several other conditions can exacerbated or caused by weight gain. In dogs, osteoarthritis is one of the most common disorders seen with obesity. The increased stress on the soft tissues and joints predisposes to instability or inflammation which in turn can cause arthritis in patients. Other disorders seen include difficulty breathing , intolerance to exercise and heat, problems with anesthesia, skin disorders, increased fat/cholesterol in the blood stream, pancreatitis, renal disease and decreased life span. In cats, some cancers, diabetes, skin disorders, urinary tract disease, and mouth problems are linked to obesity.

As a veterinarian and animal rehabilitation therapist, I converse with clients about weight A LOT. One of the most concerning issues that I find is that a lot of owners do not recognize that their companion is overweight. That said, here is some to help identify obesity in your companions. Purina has a great set of body condition score charts to help you identify if your companion may be overweight:

Body Condition Article/Info

Cat Body Condition Info

If you still are not sure if your pet is overweight, check with your veterinarian. Weight on a scale is only 1 criteria in identifying obesity.

I also encounter clients who feel that a pet has had a hard life and should be allowed to eat whatever they want. I agree that those companions that have had a hard life need to be spoiled, but unfortunately if we give them whatever they want, we are increasing the stress on their bodies and not doing them any favors. Spoiling a pet can not only include food treats but all the love, cuddle time and play time they want. In essence, they want our attention. There are so many ways that we can give attention that don’t include food. Treats used judiciously and love given freely is the best way to spoil your companion and keep them healthy.

If you do discover that your furry friend is overweight or obese, you may be wondering what to do next. The first step is to talk with a veterinarian. Depending on factors such as your companion’s medical history, present body condition score and length of time they have been obese, a controlled weight loss plan will be developed with you to provide a healthy weight loss that will not cause harm to your friend. And BE PATIENT. Weight loss in companions is a process that occurs at its own pace. It is recommended you weigh your pet every 1-2 weeks and keep a food journal. I highly recommend the journal. In a family, there may be a lot of “treats” given that not everyone knows about.

Another part of a healthy weight loss plan is exercise. Sound familiar? Regular exercise every day is the key to increasing metabolic rates and building muscle mass, both of which help burn fat. Daily walks can be a great start to an exercise plan in an obese dog. These walks may start by just going to the mailbox or walking 3 laps around the yard, but as your friend loses weight they will be able to go further. Cats can also go on walks, but for those feline friends that are not up for a stroll, creativity is needed. Engage them in play that requires movement. In some cats, this can be very difficult, but keep at it. You can make a difference by encouraging exercise.

For those companions that are so overweight or have conditions where walking causes pain, there are other exercises that can help to lose weight. Swimming is a great exercise that does not put compressive stress on joints and can allow for freedom of movement. Like walks, short swims at first are needed, but can be increased as your pet’s endurance increases. Other exercises can be shown to you by a animal rehabilitation practitioner based on your pets needs.