Warm up for agility dogs

Warm up for agility dogs is important for prepare the dogs brain and body for training and competition. Most importantly – warm up contributes to reducing the risk of injury.

Minimize the risk of injuries

In agility there are many sudden turns, fast movements and accelerations for both human and dog. Without warming up, you can easily strain something or even tear a muscle. Imagine getting straight out of bed or the sofa to sprint 200 meters without warming up. The risk of injuries is one thing, but you would not perform anywhere near your best. Taking your dog directly from the car and onto the course to run agility is the same thing.

My dog gets tired of doing warm up

If your dog is getting tired from the warm up, it is most likely mentally tired (not physically). Focus on physical warm up and make sure your dog has the required distance to other dogs or disturbing elements so it will not tire mentally.

If you have a dog that gets quickly excited from the warm up, you should do calm exercises like sit, down, stand and so on. If it cannot focus and keeps stressing you should give your dog more space from whatever is disturbing it.

My warm up routine for my dogs

I use the same warm up routine for training as competition, which helps me get into the right mindset. If we have the chance to do our warm up on the same surface as we are running on, the warm up will also help my dog to get familiar with the surface.

  1. Trotting (5-10 min)
    Great for general warm up, which gets their heart, lungs and bloodstream working.
  2. Heeling (2 min)
    I like to use this drill to activate their hind feet and hips, as well as their coordination.
  3. Handstand and stretching (2 min)
    When doing the handstand the muscles in the front are engaged, and by stretching we are preparing the muscles and the tendons for explosive and rapid jumping movements.
  4. Sit – down – stand (2 min)
    The shifts between these positions are great for warm up of elbows, wrist and ancles.
  5. Weave and wrap (2 min)
    Weaving between my legs is a similar motion as doing the weaves, and is preparing the muscles in the back as well as the sides for this motion. The wrap is engaging the sides in addition to the hips, shoulders and wrists.
  6. Sit pretty rocket (2 min)
    I added this trick to not be dependent on warm up jumps being available at competitions. The motion, the muscles and the power my dog has to use during this trick, is very similar to when they do a jump.
  7. Sprint and listen (2 min)
    The final drill we do is full speed running with listening. This is just as much a warm up for their brain as for their bodies.

The exercises on the list above are the ones I am currently using. If you want to implement on of them into your dogs warm up routine, remember to adjust them to your dogs level in terms of physical strength and skills. I recommend adjusting the type and number of drills to your dog and their need.

When I do my warm up routine I always focus on rewarding a lot and having fun. Since we use about 20-30 minutes per warm up routine, it is important for me that it is fun and not something boring shit we have to do before doing what we really want to do.