In my intro post, I wrote that the foundation to conditioning was based on functional strength and how to build it. But we can’t use that concept as a foundation to conditioning our dogs if we don’t know what conditioning means. Sure we can copy what someone else does, but we have no idea if that is what we should be doing for our dog.
When I trained people, I was taught “The Core”, in short, were the muscles that stabilize, flex, extend, and rotate the spine. A weak core will usually be the result of a sedentary lifestyle and most likely result in lower back issues now or in the future, along with poor and inefficient athletic movement.
At the Martial ARFS, we define “The Core” the same way, the muscles that stabilize, flex, extend and rotate the spine. This is not to say that there are not “Core” muscles of the shoulder joint for example, but our definition of “the core” allows us to separate out exercises that focus on a specific set of muscles within the same region of the body. This, in turn, allows us to create a more effective conditioning program.
But what is “Conditioning” anyway? Conditioning is the development of strength or fitness through the adaptation of the body to an exercise program. Muscles adapt as a result of being stressed. Simply put, stress creates small tears in the muscle. Once repaired, those muscles are in effect stronger. But there’s a delicate balance between too little and too much stress. Too little will yield no result and too much will lead to injury.
Consequently, “Canine Core Conditioning”, would be defined as The development of strength in the muscles that stabilize, flex, extend and rotate a dog’s spine through adaptation to an exercise program.
“Canine Conditioning”, would be defined as The development of strength or fitness through the adaptation of a dog’s body to an exercise program.
However, we’re training to improve our dog’s ability to function as it relates to sport and life, so this too is incomplete. Therefore we add “Functional” to “Canine Conditioning”:
“Functional Canine Conditioning”, would be defined as The development of strength or fitness through the adaptation of a dog’s body to an exercise program designed for a practical purpose.
I believe that this is the absolute best definition to use for conditioning your dog. Through future posts, I’ll tie together our definition of “Functional Canine Conditioning” with “Building Functional Strength” (from our previous post), and what a conditioning program like this should entail. Subscribe to this blog, and/or like us on Facebook or check back soon!