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Dog Physical Therapy Exercises You Can Do at Home

by Justin Girdler |

Given their active and playful nature, dogs are highly susceptible to injuries. Fortunately, there are many treatment options and surgical procedures available to treat serious injuries like a CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) tear.

But the road to recovery doesn’t end at surgery or medical procedures. Your vet would supplement their treatment with canine physical therapy.

Dog Physical Therapy (PT) uses the same techniques and modalities as human physical therapy. It helps ease your pet’s pain while improving the function and mobility of the affected limb.

In this article, we’ll discuss the different therapeutic exercises that you can do at home to help speed up your pet’s recovery.

8 Canine Physical Therapy Exercises to Try

Keep in mind that, while these exercises can be done at home, consult with your veterinarian before attempting any of these exercises with your pet.

    1. Planks

Planks are essentially a simple standing exercise. These simple movements can help your canine improve their balance and coordination.

To do a plank, make your pet stand still for ten seconds without moving. Make sure that your dog is looking up while doing this exercise so it can maintain its balance.

    1. Core Strength Exercises

Have your pet stand on a wobble board, a small physioball, or a set of cushions. You can also have them stand on a stable platform like an upside-down plastic container. Then, help your canine stay balanced while standing on any of these surfaces. You can also lightly tickle your dog’s tummy so you engage its core muscles while injecting some fun into the exercise.

    1. Back Extensions

Let your pet put its front feet on an elevated surface like a curb or a step up the stairs. The step should be at least as high as the ankles of your dog.

Once your dog’s front feet are in place, make sure to align its head, neck, and back. Have your pet hold this position for five to ten seconds. Once done, assist your dog in going down slowly so it won’t strain its legs.

    1. Full-Body Exercises

If your pet is cleared by your vet to take on more intense physical activities, you can start incorporating full-body exercises into its routine. These may include the following:


Swimming is an excellent choice for canine physical therapy. But make sure they’re swimming in safe and clean waters, be it a pool, lake, or pond. Also, keep a watchful eye on your pet and help it navigate the water when necessary. You can use a canine life jacket and place mats near the edge of the water to prevent your dog from slipping as it goes in and out of the water.

For this canine physical therapy exercise, make your pet swim for one to two minutes once or twice a day. If your dog can swim longer, you can stay in the water with them for up to 15 minutes twice a day.

Agility Course Training

In this exercise, your pet will go around a timed obstacle course full of hurdles, tunnels, weave poles, and walkways. Agility training helps your canine stay fit and healthy, especially if it’s recovering from an injury. The exercise is excellent for high-energy dogs and senior canines.

Border collies, Shetland sheepdogs, and other herding dogs often go through agility training. But any breed can benefit from this dog PT exercise.

    1. Passive Range of Motion (PROM) Exercises

If you’re doing this dog physical therapy exercise at home, make sure that its limbs are active and can move freely without pain.

To do a PROM exercise, have your pet lie on its side. Gently bend and release each toe on one limb ten times. Then, slowly bend the leg out and toward the hip for another ten times.

End the exercise by slowly circling the limb as if your dog is pedaling on a bicycle. Rotate the leg in one direction, then turn it the other way. Repeat these steps on the other limb. Next, gently flip your pet on its other side and do the same movement exercises.

    1. Strength Training

Canines recovering from surgery can benefit from strength training exercises. These exercises help your dog regain balance, build core strength, and slowly improve its ability to bear weight on the affected limb without hurting itself.

Start with your canine lying on its side. Lightly grip your pet’s limbs while it lies down, then roll the body from side to side. Once your canine masters this basic technique, you can do it using a large balance ball. Lie your pet face down over the ball and move the ball side to side.

Strength training lets your dog work its abdominal muscles and improve its balance while moving.

    1. Stand & Count

This canine physical therapy exercise is simple. Make your pet stand up, then see how long it can stay standing. This exercise helps your dog improve its coordination and gradually increase its standing endurance.

    1. Stand & Shift Weight

This next exercise also involves a lot of standing up. But this time around, give your dog’s hips a gentle push sideways — one or two inches will do. Then, see if your canine can bring its hips back in place. Otherwise, do the exercise with one of your hands pressed against your pet’s belly. Perform this exercise five times daily.

Keep Your Furry Friend Active During Recovery

Dog physical therapy is a vital part of the rehabilitation process. The best part is that you can do these therapeutic exercises at home. Try these exercises with your canine and see what works best in helping them recover safely and swiftly.

Find more helpful resources on canine health and injury recovery on the Lick Sleeve blog today.

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