• Katie Noble Vet Physio

Canine Pilates!

“Remedial action is intended to correct something that is wrong or to improve a bad situation”(Cambridge dictionary, 2018)

In other words, we use certain types of exercise to improve strength, fitness and proprioception as part of a dog’s rehabilitation or performance enhancement, its like pilates for our canine friends!

Below is a list of commonly used exercises and why we use them:

Sit to stand

Strengthen hindlimb gluteals, quadriceps and hamstrings and improve range of motion.

Balance and core strength exercises

Often using wobbly surfaces and treats to challenge balance and improve core strength. Also, using ‘paw’ or ‘high-five’ to increase core stability.

Rhythmic stabilisation

Helps postural (standing) muscle strength. Light pressure applied in a ‘bouncing’ motion over the pelvis or thoracic region. Dog needs to be standing on an unstable surface.


Helps with lateral (side to side) spinal flexion, balance, proprioception and strengthening of adductor and abductor muscles. We start with big circles or large spaces between weave cones and decrease separation and circle diameter to make the exercise more challenging.

Cavaletti Poles

Increases active range of motion of lots of joints (elbow, stifle, hock), challenges proprioception and core muscles. Start low and wide apart, then increase height and decrease spacing to increase ROM and alter stride length if necessary.


Can be active (moving) to increase joint ROM and improve quadriceps and gluteal muscle strength or can be stationary, as part of balance exercises and to encourage weight transfer/shift center of gravity.

Limbo exercise

Encourages dogs to flex all limbs and strengthen the relevant supporting muscles – kind of like doing a squat! Starting with pole or tunnel slightly shorter than the dogs’ height and lowering it or increasing distance to pass under to make more challenging.

Resistance bands and leg weights

Resistance to any targeted limb/muscle group increases strength. As does adding a small weight cuff to a limb, this especially targets flexor muscles. (weights should only be 1-3% of the dog’s boy weight).

PLEASE do not try any of these exercises before talking to your vet or physiotherapist. If you have any problems or concerns regarding any exercises that a professional has prescribed, please refer back to them.

Further Information can be found in these books:

Animal physiotherapy: assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of animals – McGowan, Stubbs and Goff, 2016

Canine Rehabilitation and physical therapy – D Levine, 2014

Or in these videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDlJvGh-5_Q- balance and core exercise using FitPaws.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNQTkUtfoHc- Cavaletti pole exercises

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