question about structure and movement - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-25-2017, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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question about structure and movement

First of all I wasnt sure where this should go so my apologies.
Shadow falls when running and playing. A lot. She also seems to have issues stopping. So I have been watching her move to see if I could pinpoint an issue.
She hits her front legs with her back feet. She does this when trotting and running.
She also seems to lack the strength in her front end to stop the push from her back end which is why she cant stop.
Is there a way to teach her to compensate?
I am concerned that she has done and will continue to do damage to her front legs.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-25-2017, 12:57 PM
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I don't think you can teach a dog how to trot, run and jump. How old is Shadow? You can teach her to slow down and prevent her from jumping down. My guess is she jumps out when she jumps down? Also, I wouldn't do any retrieve with her other than in water. Does she swim? Best exercise for limiting wear and tear.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-25-2017, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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I am not talking about jumping. We dont allow much of that as I am wary of hip and joint issues.
She will swim and likes water but since I live in Calgary not much access to water.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-25-2017, 01:56 PM
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You can improve the quality of movement in dogs using cavaletti --- which are simply poles laid/set on the ground, at varying heights and distances, so as to achieve different goals. First thing, however, is consult with your vet to ensure that there're no underlying orthopedic or other issues which may need to be addressed beforehand or which might preclude this kind of exercise. Then, read up on the theory of cavaletti (what they are and what you can accomplish with them) before you start:

Cavaletti Training for Show Dogs | Bred-By Bitch
Getting Started with Cavaletti Exercises for Your Dog
The Highs and Lows of Cavaletti Poles ? Pawsitive Strides
Cavaletti Exercises ? Pawsitive Strides

Finally, buy or build your own cavaletti. Much cheaper to build and you don't even need to be handy! Visit your local Home Despot and purchase one or more lengths of either wide, wooden dowels or PVC pipe which you then have cut to the lengths that you want. (You'll need something rounded, without flat sides, and of sufficient diameter as determined by the size of your dog). Measure your cuts so that the cavaletti are at least 4' wider than your dog. If you're using wooden dowels, you'll also want to buy a can of spray paint (any high contrast color will do) as you'll want the cavaletti to stand out from the ground.

The links above outline several exercises to get you started. Start slowly, with poles laid flat on the ground. Once you both understand the exercise and are thoroughly comfortable with it, go from there. I've used horse cavaletti with IWs, in the past. Great fun, the hounds thoroughly enjoyed it and so did folks at the barn.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-25-2017, 02:35 PM Thread Starter
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Funny. I have been pondering this and had just gone back to my horsey past.
The problem is that she is over reaching with her hind legs and also that she lacks the strength on her front end to balance the push from her back end. And as I was pondering all of this I came up with how did we teach the young horses?
Now if I teach her to walk down a steep incline that should also teach her to balance herself with her front legs and help with her stopping right?
So the cavaletti will teach her where to put her feet and the incline should help with balance?
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-25-2017, 06:07 PM
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It might, though we're getting close to the limits of my (admittedly shallow) understanding of GSD movement and conformation. That said, the thing that I'd be most concerned about is "loading" her front end by going downhill which might worsen rather than improve the situation. I'd also be concerned about straining her shoulders and forelegs by doing that. Hard to be definitive based on an internet posting, but it sounds like you may wish to teach her to move out in a more elongated frame, rather than the overly 'rounded' frame that it sounds like she currently uses. Again, check with your vet (and/or a knowledgeable GSD Guru) before starting anything because there may be conformational/structural reasons why she moves the way that she does and those reasons may preclude what we're talking about.

That said, gradual hill work (walking then trotting then running up rather than downhill) is great for strengthening both the abdomen and hind end which, ironically, may actually be an indirect source of the problem. Also, spacing the cavaletti farther apart (once she's comfortable with the exercise) so that she's taking longer strides, may also help build up her strength and reach.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-25-2017, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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I am using horse knowledge to muddle through this. My knowledge of canine movement is non existant.
It looks to me like she extends well but her reach is greater and the drive stronger on the back end.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-25-2017, 08:14 PM
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I am too, Sabis Mom; it's funny how many horsefolk there are on this forum. The kind of movement that you've described is considered interference in horses. Arguably, it's the same thing in dogs. If I'm correct, that happens because the dog isn't strong or mature enough to carry itself correctly. (Barring physical or conformational limitations). So, it moves in a kind of overly rounded (aka hunched up) kind of frame. Mind you, this can be very subtle and hard to see without a lot of experience or a video that you can slow down. Also, my interpretation assumes that there's no structural or conformational restriction on her movement, so that the over rounding, so to say, is the best that she can do. (Again, consult your vet or a GSD Guru about this).

If she's youngish (can't find where you said how old she is), it may be that she simply hasn't figured out how all the growing parts move and this is her way of adjusting. If it's just a question of immaturity, she may well grow out of it without intervention on your part. Even if it is only immaturity, you can facilitate things thru exercise to build her strength and body awareness and/or by helping her to strengthen her hind end and abdomen by gentle exercises that encourage her to elongate and reach in the front (e.g., spacing the cavaletti more widely) and drive better from behind (e.g., hillwork).

A final thought. Can you reach out to her breeder? Take her for a visit with the breeder to get another pair of eyes on the movement? Or, perhaps, take her to a nearby GSD club to get other folks to have a look? Or, failing that, make a video that you can post here for the forum gurus to have a look at? Movement's tricky enough in person or on a video, and impossibly difficult to interpret on the internet.

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-25-2017, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Shadow is nearing 7. She has no breeder.

Her story is on here somewhere but I have had her since about the time her eyes opened.

I wondered if there was some corrulation between gsds and horse people.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-25-2017, 11:51 PM
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I think you'll find there is a correlation between dog people and horse people, not just one specific breed, all breeds.
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