Wednesday, November 17, 2010

North Downs show

Here are Zazzys three runs at the North Downs show. Interesting to see how Bernadette also ran her shelties over some of the same courses
In her agility, Zazzy's contacts and weaves were not as good or confident as I was hoping, the volume of dogs and distractions definately affected her, but she does look happy at the end. My handling of the line before the turn to the dogwalk could have been better, I was relying on calling to her to turn, when I should have got my right hand up to indicate a turn coming up as well!
Jumping class - I called too early and pulled her off a jump.
Second jumping class. Bit messy as she came out the tunnel, I was too late in indicating the rear cross.

There were times (especially in the queues) that Zazzy got quite stressed about the other dogs around her. Although it was amazing to see how she transformed when she realised that she recognised her friend all of a sudden! I still have lots of thinking to do about helping her cope with scary lunging dogs, flags etc.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bit of training

Deece, 14 months old. When Deece was a puppy I had noticed that he prefered always to lead in the canter with his left leg. I did a lot of circle games with him using cones, and this seemed to help him become balanced using either lead leg. I had completely forgotten about this until Lee put up a figure 8 jumping exercise to teach him to change the lead leg. I recreated it and videoed it so that I could see how he was doing (hard to see while you are working with the dog!).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Kaydee's plan

When I was running the co-ordination and balance course last weekend, I realised that it has been a long time since I have done any of those sorts of exercises with my own dogs. This is particularly remiss in the case of Kaydee, who would benefit most from the sort of exercises that recruit slow, controlled, intense muscle use, but without impact or excessive twisting. The sort of exercises that strengthen core muscle groups, and develop large and small muscle groups that 'fine tune' exact movement. These muscles stabilise joints, and therefore protect them against moving out of their natural range (hyper-extension) that might cause injury. At the same time, they develop proprioception and encourage circulation of joint lubricants, both of which should assist in reducing any joint pain. In the same way that my own back benefits from regular pilates, I think getting Kaydee back into that sort of regular excersise should help her problems. So the first part of Kaydee's plan is to get out the balance ball, wobble cushion, wobble board etc. and to make sure we do lots of fun little exercises with them on a regular basis. The second part of her plan is to take her swimming. I really struggle to be able to afford this, I would love to take all my dogs swimming regularly, but I will do as much as I can.

Two steps forward, one step back

Well the bad news is that Kaydee has slipped, and in so doing hurt her back again. Luckily for us Stuart McGregor was available to help out. He said her symptoms are typical of a slip where the front legs go one way and the back ones go another.
This seems a good point to refer back to something Stuart said in his seminar that I found particularly interesting, so I have done a little more googling to find out more.
He talked about why it hurts when a joint becomes immobilised. This can happen if a joint is hyper-extended (taken beyond its natural position), because muscles around the joint then 'clamp down' to protect it from damage (the feeling of muscles going into spasm). The theory for this pain is explained by the The "gate control theory" proposed by Melzach and Wall (1965).
In the gate model of pain, the neural fibers that carry the signal for pain and those that carry the signal for proprioception* are mediated through the same central junction. Because signal transmission along pain fibers is slower than transmission along proprioception fibers, the gate model suggests that intense stimulation of proprioception fibers can block the slower-moving pain signals.

This means that when your vertebrae or other joints are free to move normally, there is proprioceptive feedback constantly occupying your neural pathways, so you feel no pain. However, if a joint becomes immobilised there is no proprioceptive feedback mechanism occurring to block the pain signals, so you feel pain.

The "gate control theory" proposed by Melzach and Wall (1965, 1979) identify cellular structures in the substantia gelatinosa in the gray matter of the dorsal horns of the spinal cord, which act as a "gate" that when "open" allows the perception of pain through the reticular formation and thalmus, with response from the limbic system, among others. When the mechanism is stimulated to "close," the gate inhibits the perception of pain. Two types of fibers as identified by Melzach and Wall affect the way pain "gets past, or affects the gate." Small fibers affect the "T cell" and act to "open the gate" when noxious stimulation occur. Larger fibers affect the "SG cells" located in the substantia gelatinosa in the gray matter of the dorsal horn to act in response to proprioception and touch during changes in body movement. They inhibit the T cell response and "close the gate." This in theory changes the course of noxious or painful stimuli, and causes a natural analgesic effect. "Inhibition of pain is increased by stimulating the mechanoreceptors (larger-fibers) in two ways: by movement and activity of muscles and joints, and by manipulation of the joint."
Melzach R, Wall PD. Pain mechanisms: A new theory. Science 150:1965; p. 971.
Melzach, Wall. Gate Control Theory. Churchill Livingston; 1979; pgs. 21-23.

What this means is that by correct manipulation to re-establish normal joint position and movement in a joint, the pain disappears.

Proprioception refers to sensory information telling us about our own movement or body position, so that we do not have to look to see where our body parts are to know where they are and what they are doing. It provides perception that helps integrate touch and movement sensations. For example, it allows us to walk in complete darkness or touch-type. Receptors for the proprioceptive sense are in the muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue. The stimuli for these receptors are movement and gravity. Proprioception, the "position sense," sends messages about whether the muscles are stretching or contracting, and how the joints are bending and straightening. Even when we are motionless, gravity stimulates the receptors to create proprioceptive messages without our being consciously aware of them.

Kinesthesia is a term that is often used interchangeably with proprioception, although use of the term "kinesthesia" can place a greater emphasis on motion, and they seem to be separate physiologically. Proprioception and kinesthesia are seen as interrelated and there is considerable disagreement regarding the definition of these terms. Some differentiate the kinesthetic sense from proprioception by excluding the sense of equilibrium or balance from kinesthesia. An inner ear infection, for example, might degrade the sense of balance. This would degrade the proprioceptive sense, but not the kinesthetic sense. The affected individual would be able to walk, but only by using the sense of sight to maintain balance; the person would be unable to walk with eyes closed. Proprioception is, in essence, a feedback mechanism; that is, the body moves (or is moved) and then the information about this is returned to the brain, whereby subsequent adjustments could be made. Kinesthesia is a key component in muscle memory and hand-eye (or paw-eye!) coordination, and training can improve this sense. For example, the ability to catch a ball requires a finely-tuned sense of the position of the joints. This sense needs to become automatic through training to enable a person to concentrate on other aspects of performance, such as being aware of where other people and objects are.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Autumn colour

Richmond Park looked beautiful this morning

A lovely calm relaxing hour walking in Richmond Park before work was very welcome, as everything has been extremely hectic and busy recently. Fab weekend, I organised a training day at the Dog Barn on Saturday, which all went really well. I trained Deece, Zazzy and Kaydee with Lee which was brilliant (no video though sorry). I also ran two co-ordination and balance workshops which went really well, while Lee taught two more training sessions. Quite a long day, exhilerating and exhausting, learnt a lot, and met some lovely people and dogs. I have had lots of really lovely positive feedback for both our courses, so thanks everyone for that, for coming along, being fantastic to teach, and for making it all so worthwhile and enjoyable.
Sunday I went to the KC Canine Sports Science Seminar at Stoneleigh. Another long day (not helped by forgetting to put my clocks back, so I got up at 4am instead of 5am!). It took an hour and a half to get there but three and half hours to get home! We had four quite long seminars, three were really excellent and one was a bit disappointing. The subjects covered :
The Practical Application of Osteopathy in the Working Dog by Stuart McGregor.
Nutrition in the Canine Athlete by Marge Chandler.
Functional Stability Exercises for the Canine by Jackie Grant.
Rehab, Hydro and Fitness Training in Dogs by Angela Griffiths.
I might get round to writign summaries if I have time!

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