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Neuromotor development in puppies: implications for training and fitness – Presented by B. Pierce, DVM, MS, DACVIM, DACVP, DACVSMR

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Neuromotor development in puppies: implications for training and fitness.

All puppies, regardless of intended placement as future working dogs or pets, undergo rapid growth and maturation of neuromotor function in the first several months of life. In human athletics, it is well established that developing and refining neuromuscular function (aka, “functional training”) is a key component in successful performance of job or sporting activities. Neuromuscular and proprioceptive training has received increasing emphasis in exercise and conditioning protocols, producing improved outcomes while reducing rates of injuries in human athletes. Although there is a lack of similar studies and validated training protocols for canines, focused and age-appropriate functional fitness training is a key component to shaping the well-rounded working dog puppy. Exercises that target balance, proprioception and develop fine motor coordination include those incorporating narrow-based stance, perturbation techniques and reactive training. The end goal is to develop body spatial awareness in the maturing puppy and to refine the ability to make rapid, reactive physical adjustments when moving through challenging working environments.

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