Today Penny did stretching exercises before her agility class. Sometimes we do a mix of agility and tricks but today was all agility. Cindy, our teacher, got us to do some stretches beforehand to get Penny's spine active. She did 'paws up', putting her front legs up onto my forearm and also some bowing to mobilise the spine.
I'm convinced this is a valuable way to start an agility session and I'm going to try to remember to do it before we practise at home. However, I have read some articles in magazines lately throwing doubt on the value of stretches for humans as a start to sport or activity sessions and I read a discussion of this topic on the Net tonight.
An article at Dog Agility Preschool has a discussion of the necessity for warming up (humans AND dogs) that I think is most interesting. There is also a great discussion of warming up and cooling down at the Connecticut Police Work Dog Association, with photos and examples of how to help your dog prepare for activity.