Downward Dog: Stretching Your Senior

Like us, dogs can often experience joint stiffness, decreased flexibility, and muscle aches and pains as they age. Depending on breed and level of activity, these symptoms can appear earlier in some dogs. You may have even spotted them already. Are they having trouble standing up? Reluctant to go upstairs? Less active during playtime? Stretching can be a great tool to help counteract these symptoms. If you’ve noticed these types of changes with your dog, it’s important to first discuss with your veterinarian. Once you’ve gotten their go ahead, engage your dog in a little yoga session using the 4 techniques below. 

  • Hip Flexor Stretch

While your dog is standing, grasp one of their back legs just above the knee. Place a hand beneath their upper torso to keep them stabilized and gently and slowly move their leg straight back away from their body. Hold the leg in position for up to 30 seconds, release, and repeat two to three times with each leg.

  • Shoulder Flexor Stretch

In a similar fashion to the hip flexor stretch, grasp one of your dog’s front legs just above the elbow. Wrap your arm around their torso to keep them stabilized and gently and slowly pull their leg forward. Hold the leg in position for up to 30 seconds, release, and repeat two to three times with each leg.

  • Chest Stretch

With your dog on their back and their chest facing up, grab a hold of both front legs near the wrists. Gently pull the legs outward away from each other and hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat two to three times and finish off with a gentle belly rub. 

  • Back Stretch

This one requires a few treats, so it’s likely to become your dog’s new favorite. With your dog standing, position yourself along one side. Hold the treat first by their head to get their attention then slowly move the treat towards their tail until their body forms a C shape. Do your best to keep them in this position for several seconds before releasing. Repeat two to three times.

A word of caution before you begin – be careful not to stretch your dog too far. Move slowly with each stretch and keep a good read on their responses to ensure you’re not causing any pain. Give them a little encouragement along the way and take breaks as needed. Once you’ve gotten into a routine, try repeating the exercises once a week or every other week to help minimize any further join stiffness in your furry friend.