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What Are the Benefits of Incorporating Functional Movement into Your Dog's Routine?

A dog looking into the undergrowth
Finn Hunting

Functional movement is a term that is often heard during rehabilitation programs but what does it actually mean?

As a Galen Myotherapist functional exercises and their use within a treatment plan are an integral part of our training. (

Once I was aware of their importance, they also became part of my own dog's management when he was diagnosed with end stage arthritis.

In the example below I will aim to show you how some of the natural movements our dogs undertake everyday can be translated into a functional movement activity.


Why are Functional Movement Activities Important?

All movement has a function and according to the Oxford English Dictionary function is defined as, an activity that is natural to or the purpose of a person or thing.  

In any exercise plan, functional movements are those that are developed to replicate natural movements.

By encouraging these movements a dog that may have a compromised musculoskeletal system can begin to re-engage muscles in natural movement patterns resulting in, improved symmetry and balance in muscle groups which may be compromised due to underlying issues and/or conditions.

In addition to the physical benefits, these activities can have a psychological effect as these activities are fun and also involve both dog and owner working together.

Replicating Nature: Finn, Woody and Ellie

To be able to replicate natural movements you first need to look and observe what these are. As all dogs are different but they also have one thing in common, they love to sniff!

In this video both Woody and Finn are having a good sniff and finding tasty grass to eat in some scrub whilst out on a daily walk. Their natural movements differ because of their age but they have noses down enjoying themselves.

Woody can also be seen in some local woods showing another type of activity, still involving sniffing but also navigating the tree roots.

Finn then joins him for some more searching and hunting.

In all these videos both are showing natural movements, associated muscle activation and proprioceptive awareness during a daily activity. The sniffing activity is also enriching as they gain information about the environment they are in.

So, how can we replicate this?

This is Ellie a 15 year old Labrador, with limited mobility, enjoying one of the functional movement activities I suggested as part of her Galen Myotherapy treatment plan. Using sticks in the garden and a scattering of treats we were able to replicate some of the movements seen earlier, nose down sniffing, moving around obstacles and challenging her proprioception. This could all be done at her own pace whilst engaging the natural movement patterns of the musculoskeletal system.

Benefits of Functional Activities

Functional activities need little resources but can have a significant impact as part of a treatment plan.

If you want to find out more about how Galen Myotherapy can help your dog, please do get in touch.

To find out a little more about the benefits of Galen Myotherapy please visit

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