Phase 5: Cool down

Cool down is an essential part of the exercise – it’s both the last part of the previous performance, and on the other hand, the first part of the next.

The purpose of a cool down immediately after performance is to calm the dog’s system back towards the resting state, to treat strained tissues through low-intensity exercise and to start recovery.

From the point of view of the next performance or exercise, it’s important the dog is as recovered as possible. The faster you bring your dog’s system back to resting state and get the recovery started, the more time your dog has to recover before the next performance.

Cool down

After the performance, once the dog has had time to drink, start moving again; first more briskly and then gradually lowering the intensity. It’s important to keep the muscles used in the performance active, warm, the capillaries open and the metabolism ongoing.

Light trotting and cantering is a good way to let the dog move and also flush out metabolic products such as lactic acid produced during exercise. These metabolic products are mainly excreted through the kidneys and urine, which highlights the importance of fluid intake during and after exercise.

If the dog doesn’t have enough fluids in it’s system, it can’t remove these substances and they stay and burden the organs for longer.

During cool down, it’s good to take note of the way the body moved during exercises and when necessary, offer a relaxed opposite movement or a relieving range-of-motion exercise.

Obedience and rally obedience are quite static disciplines, where especially the dog’s back remains tense during heeling and eye contact. Agility then again strains the forequarters. Because of this, when cooling down after these sports it would be good to do a few rounding stretches of the thoracic spine and relaxed movement with the head down. For example crossing the ladder while looking for scattered treats is a good, light opposite movement (you’ll find the exercise in phase 3).

Sideways bends done calmly relieve muscles strained e.g. during training agility weaves or the lopsided muscular activity typical for obedience dogs (due to constant work on the left side of the trainer). ROM-exercises with instructions can be found in phase 2.


Use at least 15 minutes to cool down. This time should be active moment with gradually lowering intensity. After a physically hard performance it isn’t recommended to do a cool down longer than 30 minutes. When the dog’s energy reserves are empty, it starts burning alternative sources of energy – muscles. Then cooling down turns against itself and instead of recovery, instead burdens the dog further.

Later, hours after the performance, after rest and filling the energy and fluid reserves, you can do a longer recovery walk meant to activate metabolism and flush out any remaining lactic acid or other metabolic products with light exercise.

Back on Track – to increase recovery

The following Back on Track products were used when filming the videos on this course:

Whippet Rug

Dog Mesh Rug

Dog Leg Brace

Dog Hock Brace

Athena P4G sweater