Purpose: This video demonstrates assessing and troubleshooting a cone wrap for a dog that uses less than ideal mechanics when circling a cone. In our case, it’s due to CCL rupture/TPLO surgery and the resulting compensation… But this method would be applicable to any movement dysfunction/habit.
Equipment: 1 cone or similar stanchion.
Targets: The intentional / controlled cone wrap, works to target the muscles through the shoulder and hip on the limbs following the outside of the curve (away from the cone). The shoulder and hip abductors engage to stabilize against the centripetal force trying to push the dog away from the cone and onto a straight line path (think about taking a corner too fast while driving). To keep the wrap tight, and maintain balance, the outside limbs must engage the outer hip and shoulder muscles (abductors), and “lean into the curve”.
The controlled cone wrap also works to bend the spine (lateral spine flexion), engaging the obliques and epaxials (back muscles) on the inside of the curve, and lengthening the obliques, latissimus, and epaxials on the outside of the curve. Once any asymmetry or incorrect biomechanics are corrected, distance can be added and speed increased. This is detailed in the Controlled Cone Wrap: Advanced video.
1. The exercise to correct a muscle imbalance/compensatory movement pattern MUST be precise, targeted, INTENTIONAL, and easy enough for the weakest muscle in the chain to engage against the forces involved. This is the only way to retrain biomechanics.
2. The dog must be AWARE of what’s earning the reward, and intentionally choose to execute the specific movement in order for the brain part of the habit to change. This is the #1 reason (aside from lack of patient compliance) human physical therapy fails… It’s not enough “go through the motions” executing an approximation of the movement pattern. In order to change the brain part of the habit, it takes conscious thought.
3. The dog must be able to fully CONCENTRATE in order to make the necessary choice. They must understand what’s being asked of them/not being presented with a new behavior or a too complicated behavior. They must also be at an appropriate level of arousal… motivated without being overstimulated or afraid.
This is where our dog training skills come in.
Note: The Controlled Cone Wrap is a fairly foundational movement for the dog, while requiring a HIGH SKILL LEVEL from the handler. Timing is critical if the hope is a precise performance, or retraining of biomechanics. Also, repeated turning at speed is contraindicated for young dogs, who’s growth plates are not yet closed. This exercise SHOULD be controlled and slow… but if speed is added (intentionally or unintentionally) it may be better to wait on this exercise for young pups.