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Canine gaits – Taking off!

Last week, we saw how your pooch gets going, but how do they move when they spot a squirrel or when a sighthound’s released? The next three gaits the trot, canter and gallop will reveal all.

The Trot

The trot is faster than the walk, but not as fast as the gallop and it’s the most efficient gait. In fact, wolves were capable of covering 100 miles a day mainly using this gait. It’s a two-beat sequence where the right and left legs are lifted in a diagonal fashion. There’s a short period of suspension where all legs are up in the air, but it’s hardly noticeable. This is the most popular gait seen in the show ring. When the judge asks the handler to make the dog trot, they will say “gait your dog.”

The Canter

The canter is a 3-beat gait that is used for long distances as it’s smooth and helps the dog conserve energy. The exact pattern is hind foot, the opposite hind foot and its front diagonal, and afterwards, the other front foot and there’s possible suspension.

Border Collie running in a field wearing a PitPat GPS Dog Activity Monitor

The Gallop

This is the fastest gait and it’s classified as asymmetrical. It’s a four-time gait with suspension where all the legs are lifted off the ground. There are two types of gallop: the single suspension gallop and the double suspension gallop.

The single suspension gallop in dogs is a four-time gait and is an asymmetrical sequence where the dog achieves suspension. The single suspension gallop is used by all dogs.

The double suspension gait is a four-time, asymmetrical gait seen only in sighthound breeds such as the greyhound and whippet. This is the only gait where the dog achieves full extension with the front legs extended forward and the rear legs extended rearward, the back flexes and arches with the rear feet extending in front of the front feet and the front feet extending behind the rear feet. In other words, the rear feet overtake the front, meaning the dog is air born twice in each cycle. It’s this gait that makes Greyhounds and Whippers so fast, even though, despite the speed, this gait doesn’t offer much endurance.

When you take your pup out on their walks, it’s a great idea to vary the type of exercise they’re doing, and encouraging them to use different gaits is a great way to do so. Just make sure you’re tailoring the exercise to your dog’s abilities and stamina. And if you want even more insights into your dog’s exercise then it’s time to PitPat up! Our PitPat Dog GPS Tracker tracks your dog’s location along with all the running, walking, playing and even pottering that they do all day. So, what are you waiting for?

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