Purpose: Weight shifting is an easily controlled way to target the specific muscle groups that stabilize the major joints in the canine body. The handler’s pressure can be applied in three ways to target different, specific muscle chains.
- From head to tail to challenge the hip/shoulder flexors and extensors that run along the front and back of the limbs.
- Along the side of the body medially (toward the midline) to challenge the hip/shoulder abductors and adductors.
- Diagonally (shoulder to opposite hip) to challenge the diagonal chains in the core that support the spine.
Equipment: Plyo Box, Manners Minder/Treat n Train (or a secondary handler), 2 inflatables. This same exercise can also be executed on other props such as PawPods, wedge, balance pads, Propel Air Platform, balance bars, inverted rubber feed bowls, etc. Each inflatable/prop is slightly different in its instability and challenge to the dogs joint stabilizers.
Targets: All weight shifting exercises activate the core muscles (abdominals, epaxials, and hypaxials) isometrically as they fight to maintain proper alignment against force, and is an excellent and more importantly FUNCTIONAL way to improve core stability and core strength. (Much more functional than an exercise like “sit pretty”)
NOTE: While my specific focus in this video is on the muscles in Ron Burgundy’s rear, if pressure is applied to the shoulder, the shoulder stabilizers and front end can be targeted or if pressure is applied with a forearm along the whole length of the dog’s side, the core muscles can be targeted.
Watchpoints: It’s important to watch for signs of fatigue (physical or mental) when using weight shifting (especially when using a tall prop like the peanut). Some signs of fatigue are
- Repositioning feet
- Degrading of the top line
- Loss of focus forward/looking to dismount
- Not taking treats/taking treats in a out if control manner
Always end the exercise before the final fatigue point is hit / the dog tries to leave.
Note: Clearly this is a solid Intermediate level exercise with many underlying skills that must be solid before this exercise is safety attempted. Let’s break down what’s happening…
Without a solid foundation in the above mentioned skills, it’s unfair to ask the dog to execute an exercise as technically demanding as this. Focus should remain on the prerequisite skills until fluent before progressing.