Sweat the Small Stuff: Exercise With Your Dog

football dogs

How often do you exercise with your  dog? Our friends at Slim Doggy live the mantra of keeping dogs fit on every level: Emotionally, physically, and mentally. Some of their movement juju has rubbed off on us here at Fidose of Reality.

Our Puppy Relations (PR) Manager is Dexter, a 35-pound Cocker Spaniel. He is from a larger-than-normal litter of Cocker puppies that we dog moms have dubbed “the pony litter.” That aside, exercise is incredibly important no matter your dog’s age, size, or health anomalies. Obviously, dogs with extreme or severe physical limitations or health risks should never be forced to exercise. First and foremost, seek the assistance of a qualified veterinary professional to guide you and your dog in establishing an exercise routine.

Big Dogs

Our pals at Slim Doggy tell us “there should be no reason why a big dog’s exercise would have to differ markedly from that of a little dog’s. More important than the difference in size is the breed and age of the dog as well as its unique health and injury history.” You can read the entire big dog vs. small dog exercise post from Slim Doggy here.slimdoggy

Injured Dogs

Dexter has undergone two anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgeries in the past year. He tore the ligament of his left rear leg in 2013, with successful surgical repair after failed conservative management. The second surgery occurred June 13, 2014. We are seeing the veterinarian for a hobble gait that at this stage requires further investigation. Likely we are looking at anti-inflammatories, laser treatment, and/or specific exercises targeted at scar tissue buildup if that is the case.

Dogs with lameness, who exhibit pain, or are otherwise injured should not exercise, as this only serves to further exacerbate the injury.

Traveling Dogs

Many of us travel and millions travel with a dog. Just because you travel doesn’t mean exercise is out of the question: For you or your pooch. These are exercises that also come in handy on rainy, cooler, or just too hot to go outside days.

We questioned Canine Fitness Trainer, Gail Miller Bisher, what she does to encourage her clients to commit to their dog’s exercise structure. “To live a healthy canine lifestyle, a dog should be getting 20 to 60 minutes of exercise each day and whether he needs to lose weight or is simply maintaining a healthy fitness level that means consistency,” Bisher said.

Sitting Up to beg for 10 reps will help strengthen your dog’s core muscles improving balance and stability. Those core muscles are used for walking, trotting, jumping and many other actions so it is important to strengthen them regularly.

Rolling Over is another good exercise for core muscles. Do four to five rolls each direction so you are targeting muscles equally.

Shaking Hands is a nice stretch for the shoulder muscles but be sure to do both front paws 5 to 10 reps for a balanced workout.

Commando Crawling on his belly for 10 feet following a healthy, low-fat treat. This is good for rear end, shoulders and core muscles.

Tug-of-War with a toy or towel is a great indoor exercise for strengthening the rear end, shoulders and abdomen. Remember not to lift the dog’s head back when playing tug of war.

Fido can engage in these activities on road trips as well, so be sure to pack these essentials when going on a vacation or overnight venture.

dog toy

Go Mental

Mental exercise is as important as physical exercise, so keep a dog’s brain active and his instincts keen with a variety of activities.

Group Games for Dogs

Dognition Mental Stimulation for Dogs

Of all the games we play, some of my in-house favorites include hide and seek, wrestling on the bed, and hiding under a pile of covers. Sometimes the best activities are those that require no money at all.

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After Workout Care

Smaller dogs might take shorter strides, but their energy levels are just as equal to their larger canine counterparts.

Never force a smaller dog to partake in exercise that overexerts him. Longer legged dogs might be able to keep up with a pace of jogging but that does not make it a good choice for a Basset Hound.

After a workout, dogs need a cool-down period just like we do. Our friends at petMD have a fab piece on the topic of canine cool downs, which highlights these reminders:

  • Slow down casually so that both heart rate and body temperature can properly come back to normal range.
  • Consider rubbing your dog’s limbs post exercise.
  • Don’t feed your dog immediately.
  • Check feet, pads, and nails for any injury.

QUESTION: What activities do you do with your dog to keep him or her active?

To encourage more pet parents to stay fit with their dogs, we are participating in FitDog Friday!

Comments

  1. Hey Dex – thanks for sharing your tips with us. I love those exercises…going to try the commando crawl tomorrow!. You take care of that ACL, no more injuries you hear! Thanks for joining the Hop!

  2. Thanks so much for joining in this blog hop. Fitness is so important to our dog health! Actually, traveling we find to be a great human excuse for laziness, but Mom finds it totally motivating. What better way to check out your surroundings first thing in the morning than a nice long walk or run. It will wake you up, get your metabolism going, your mind starts thinking, and you will feel better all day because of it. If your dog is with you, they will love it too. Get up 30-60 mins early and get out. Even if it is raining or snowing, it can be so much fun, just make sure when you pack you bring everything you will need for weather you may encounter!

    • You are so right, Emma. We have learned many creative indoor activities, especially since we have long cold winters here in the northeast part of the country. Movement is key 😉

  3. Great tips! We have a short summer season so we get in as much swimming as we can. In the Fall we love to hike and take in the beautiful foliage and the Winter we love to romp around in the snow!

    • WOW, that is awesome and I’d love to interview you about that, Diane. Congrats and a tummy rub to Rocco!

  4. We take our dog to exercise daily, either to the beach early or late to avoid the heat in the warm months and anytime in the cooler months. Night beach walks under a full moon are lots of fun too in either cool or warm months.
    We try to find trails at any park matter where we go. To stop and take a walk into mother nature.
    It can be hard to find time, but dogs are here a short time so we want to make it a wonderful life, and in turn, dogs make our lives wonderful.
    Never did I know I would love walking on bad weather days, but I bought a hooded rain jacket for summer with summer rubber shoes or keen protect the toes sandals, and we walk in the rain, and have come to see the joys of a rainy day. Less people out so more off leash exercise and you learn to see the joys of nature in the rain. Bought a water proof winter jacket for cold winter rains and rubber walking shoes, and still off we go.
    During bad weather days, rain and or cold and or windy, and the park trails, meadows or beaches are secluded, therefore more fun off leash exercise.
    Be present with your dog. Turn off your cell phone. When in nature there isn’t any time for cell phones.
    Always bring cold water for you and your dog.
    Always bring waste bags as no one wants to step in dog poop.
    Be prepared, if alone, bring an aluminum bat with a wrist loop so if you encounter any problem, you can stop it. We also bring pepper spray on long secluded trails. Be aware of where you are so no one surprises you. Do not use your cell phone as one is unaware of their surroundings when on the phone.
    If charged by dogs, we use cesar milan’s advice, charge the dog, command, STOP or NO – GO HOME so far all dogs have turned and left. We show no fear, so they go on their way. Thanks to Cesar that tip has helped us from time to time.
    Exercising your dog, means exercising yourself too and the joy of getting out in nature is worth everything. When out in nature, one is unaware of exercise, as it becomes such a joy to look forward
    to a visit into nature with your dog.
    If you live in the city, then on your days off, take your dog out of the city to walk on nature trails. Your dog will love it.

  5. Great post! Sorry to hear about the 2 ACL surgeries. Our Cairo is recovering from OCD surgery. She is able to exercise now, which is nice. 🙂 I LOVE the idea of K9 Fit Club! That is so cool!

  6. What a great post, thanks for all the helpful info on exercising dogs. We have a small Havanese mix and a Husky, two very different levels of energy. We take Isis our Husky on long hikes, but some are too strenuous for our little one so for those hikes she sits it out & gets a good walk later. Good idea to use commands or tricks as exercise! We also use doggie daycamp for both exercise & socialization. Isis loves it! Phoebe needs the added socialization.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Cathy, Isis & Phoebe
    http://www.dogsluvusandweluvthem.blogspot.com

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