By Nicky Grant BSc Hons Physiotherapy, MSc Veterinary Physiotherapy, MCSP, ACPAT A, HCPC, RAMP

Warm up and cool down, a subject I spend a lot of my day talking about. I find a real mixture of responses to the question I ask in clinic, "do you have a structured effective warm up and cool down routine for you and your dog?"

The first camp of people have it nailed, either they've developed it with me or another professional and we may just need to make tiny tweaks.
The second camp do something, not always structured, variable as to time or location, not quite sure what they are doing or in what order to do it in, but, they are doing something.
The last group don't have anything, they walk around a bit, do some tugging and get in the queue. I think it's really tough for people to know how to put together a structured warm up, really, unless you have been part of sport previously or have some good physiology knowledge how should you know?
That's what we are here to help with though, as physiotherapists that is part of our services. At the Win Clinic in Somerset you can have a full warm up and cool down developed specifically for you and your dog. We also devise fitness programs and obviously we see all kinds of rehabilitation, both sporting and pet dogs.
It's really important to understand that your dogs are athletes, the job you are asking them to do when you send them around a course is incredibly physically demanding for them. They have to be appropriately warmed up to help prevent injury and also improve performance. We don't expect you to know how to do it, but we must start to shift our understanding to realise that we have to treat these dogs like athletes.

Excellent news, as a starting point we have developed a module to help you, it is called "your winning warm up" and is available by following the link below.

It will give you the theory behind warm up, why it's important and then take you through an example warm up. This will hopefully help you start to put together something more structured. If you have a Physiotherapist that you work with, you can go armed with some good knowledge of the why's and how's and then they can tweak accordingly. All warm ups need to be individual to both you and your dog but it will help you develop a good understanding and give you a solid starting point.

Having a structured warm up is so helpful, if you use it all the time, at training and at comps it will become almost automatic and it will be one less stress at the comps. It is also a great time to get in the zone and mentally prepared.

In terms of your warm up as a handler this is whole new blog and one that will come over the next couple of months. The principles of why are the same, its just fitting it in with your dog and some sneaky extras we can add in there to give you the winning edge!

So, check out "Your winning warm up" and start your warm up journey.