Dogs working in Obedience need to be extremely focused and precise in the performance of the exercises. Whilst this sport appears to be less strenuous than some others the positions the dogs are required to hold for, sometimes for extended periods, can have a major impact on the muscles. Common issues we see with obedience dogs are tight, shortened muscles and/or debilitating Trigger Points in the neck. (tuck your phone into your neck held in place with your shoulder, feel the tightness build up where it is locked in position!) These are often accompanied with lower back problems – to be able to move their back end a dog needs to be able to lower their head and neck. Over time an issue here can lead to overcompensation in the lower back.
Other exercises also out additional stress on particular muscle groups i.e. send aways can cause issues in the lower back and propulsion muscles as well as those used for braking.
Lack of focus and confidence, loss of enthusiasm, reluctance to take up positions could all be signs of a muscular problem. My obedience clients all remark on the difference massage has made to their dogs overall performance and enjoyment of the sport.