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