dog on mat sm

This summer, the Working Dog Center is conducting a study evaluating the impact of a structured warm-up routine on a dog’s post-work gait analysis.

While the benefit of a warm-up routine on human athletes has been documented, this study will scientifically evaluate the benefit of a warm-up routine for dogs.

This study is being conducted in partnership with GAIT4Dog®, a division of CIR Systems, and is using their 16’ GAITFour® Walkway.

This devise is a “pressure sensitive portable walkway measurement system designed to capture and analyze gait data from quadrupeds.”

In this study, each dog in training at the WDC is trotted across the walkway for 10 minutes then put into their crate for 30 minutes of rest. This gives researchers a baseline reading of each dog’s gait. They are then trotted across the mat again for another 10 minutes and subsequently put back into their crate again for another 30 minutes. This provides a consistent 30 minute resting gait analysis.

Following these initial measurements, one group will come out of their crate and go through a 5 minute warm-up routine consisting of specific stretching exercises; this group will then do 10 minutes of agility work. The other experimental group will come out of their crate and go directly to 10 minutes of agility work without a warm-up. Both groups will be trotted for 10 minutes on the GAITFour® Walkway after performing their 10 minutes of agility to obtain their post-work gait analysis.

The walkway is able to sense the dog’s distribution of weight on each foot and tracks the motion of their feet with every step. The measurements will be compared to the Total Pressure Index metric, which is currently used to understand canine gait. It states that dogs put 60% of their body weight on their front feet, and 40% on their back feet. There is however likely variances by breed and currently there is not any data on the subject; that’s part of what we’re looking to determine in this study.

We will also be evaluating other measurements, including step length (how far one leg travels in front of the opposite leg) and stride length (how far one leg travels). The differences in the ratio can help us determine abnormalities.

We will continue to provide updates on this project and look forward to sharing results as they become available.

Check out other research products being conducted at the Center HERE.