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The above Article is Copyrighted (c) 2004-2012 Gilberts' K-9 Seminars.
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A Reader Asked:  Subject: Question on puppy agility affecting fore assembly.

Good Evening Mr. & Mrs. Gilbert,

Another breeder and I are discussing puppy agility. I say if you start a puppy too early it can make the pup go straight in the front. He says no. I was wondering if you would comment on this? Can puppy agility make a dog go straight in the front as it grows up? If so, is starting a dog too young a factor?  We both have experience in our breed but this question applies to all breeds.

Thanks so much for taking time to read.

Best Regards,

Karen

Response: Karen - Basically we do not believe a young puppy or dog should be pushed on exercise or training until after the growth plates in the bones have closed and the bones have completed the ossification process. Real damage can result to both the bones and the ligaments when they are pushed at a young age. Damage can affect not only the front, but the neck, body and rear assembly. The bones of the neck, trunk and front and rear assemblies develop from cartilage. Prior to a dog achieving full growth, cartilage is present in long bones. Bone growth is achieved by proliferation of cartilaginous cells
concurrent with the ossification of some of cartilage tissue. When the cartilaginous cells cease to proliferate, the area becomes ossified and growth in length of long bones ceases. Growth in diameter occurs by deposition of calcium around the outside along with resorption of bone. During the growth period improper exercise and/or over stress will result in traumatic disorders.

In the front assembly, the shoulder blade joint with the upper arm does not complete ossification until the age of 10 to 15 months. The elbow joint does not complete ossification until the age of 6 to 15 months. Ossification of the wrist joint of the front pastern is complete by the age of 12 months, while the front foot is complete between 7 to 9 months.

The hip joint ossification is complete by 7 and 13 months. While the knee joint  is complete  by 11 to 13 months. The hock joint is complete between 9 and 11 months, the rear pastern is complete by 7 months and the rear foot between 7 to 9 months.
Bone growth will changes as a result of stress placed upon the bone. The bone thickens in the stress area.

Starting a puppy in agility at too early an age can and will most likely result in permanent damage to the structure of the puppy.  Over weight puppies in particular will have a higher probability of permanent damage.

Now a puppy does need exercise to develop properly - but a puppy should not be over stressed in their exercise. They know when to stop when playing - respect that decision. Let a puppy be a puppy and enjoy them.

Our present society wants instant glorification - win the ribbon now. Why not wait until the dog is mature and then go all the way without the concern of over stressing the puppy and the possibility of permanent damage due to a traumatic disorder.