Tips on How to Help Your Dog Stretch

Labradoodle stretching while it plays outside

Just like humans, a proper stretching routine can be beneficial for dogs. Stretching is a great way to help dogs maintain mobility and comfort as they age, so it’s a good idea to add it to their routine now!

Here are a few stretching to try at home to get started.

Free Stretch

You can use treat, toy, or target to help your dog stretch on his own. This allows your dog to stretch to a level that is comfortable and can even be turned into a cue for continued use.

  • Play Bow
    • This stretch elongates the spine and gives a good stretch in the hips and groin area. In this stretch, the dog’s chest and elbows reaching toward the ground while rear end stays high in the air.
    • You can coax your dog into this stretch by slowly luring their nose down and slightly back toward the hind legs. When he’s in the bow position, make sure to reward!
  • Side-to-Side
    • This stretch focuses on the neck and back and asks a dog to move his head to either side of his body.
    • While your dog is standing, use a treat to slowly guide your dog’s nose from a neutral position in a c-shaped curve toward his tail. Repeat on both sides.
  • Between the Feet
    • This stretch also focuses on the neck and back. The goal is to get your dog’s head to stretch between his front legs while standing.
    • Use a treat to slowly guide your dog’s nose between his front legs (it’s easiest to start by reaching your hand between his legs to his nose, and then moving it backwards so he can follow).

Hand Stretch

A hand stretch, or manipulation, means you will use your hands to help your dog stretch rather than using food to guide the stretch. Make sure your dog is comfortable with handling before trying these.

  • Shoulders
    • While your dog is lying on his side or seated, place one hand under your dog’s forearm and slowly lift and extend the leg straight in front of the dog. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  • Hind Legs
    • While your dog is standing or lying on his side, place one hand under his belly or chest for support and use the other hand to slowly extend the back leg directly behind the dog. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  • Chest
    • When your dog is standing, gently lift one front leg to the side, away from the center of the chest. Hold here for 20-30 seconds.

Are You Supposed to Stretch Your Dog?

Because of the health benefits, especially for older dogs, stretching is a great way to improve the quality of life for your dog. It can enhance mobility, range of motion, and circulation; plus, it can help your dog's mood as well. 

Stretching is a brief, easy way to interact with your pup as well as provide much-needed mobility. All stretches should be performed gently and slowly. Never force your dog into a stretch or go beyond the natural resistance you feel during a stretch. If your dog is suffering from joint issues or appears to be in pain, make sure your talk to your veterinarian first before stretching them at home.