In the last post, I focused on the importance of feeling your dog; but when it comes to gait and stance, you also want to be able to see your dogs, not just as they are, but also as they should be. How should they stand? How should they move? Is your dog moving as they should?
Structure and gait analysis is an important skill for anyone who works with dogs, including trainers, dog sport coaches, vets, and groomers. Early identification of a concern can significantly reduce the time and money spent on identifying and resolving an issue, reduce the likelihood or further exacerbating the issue, and can quickly lead to a better quality of life for your dog.
While in Texas for the Ken Bain workshops, I was asked to do a gait analysis on a few dogs. When doing a gait analysis, I typically split it into two appointments. During the first appointment I video the dog, and I then meet the owner for a second appointment, so we can go over a summary video and my observations.
It’s very important to me that the owner truly understands what I am seeing; how the body is compensating for an irregularity. This practice allows the owner to process the information in a manner that s/he understands so that s/he can a) express specific concerns to vets/canine chiropractors etc. (as opposed to just saying the dog isn’t moving right) b) show video documentation of the issue, and c) monitor changes (either negative or positive) in gait over time. This is only possible if the owner can independently understand and break down the gait issues. An owner who can understand gait issues can be a better advocate for their dogs when they go to a vet for diagnosis.
The video above isn’t my original summary video, but I absolutely love it because a client in Texas, Marcy Matties, took two summary videos I created for her dogs and combined them to document concerns she had about her older dog’s gait. It’s a FANTASTIC example of how many clues dogs provide, through stance and gait, that something is “off”. Many thanks to Marcy for letting me work with her dogs and being so willing to share the video she created.