Monday, December 16, 2013

Make Your Dog's Workouts Fun!

It is important for active dogs to have the strength to compete in the activities they love without getting hurt. However, most people (and dogs) find exercises that accomplish these goals to be extremely boring. They don’t have to be! Here are five ways to make your dogs strength building exercises fun for both of you!

Get Creative
Do you find a particular exercise extremely boring? Figure out what the exercise is trying to accomplish and find a more creative way to accomplish the same thing. For example, we find passive range of motion exercises to be about as exciting as watching paint dry, but range of motion is important. One of our alternative solutions for many dogs is to teach them to put 4 feet in a box. This requires them to pick up their legs and still results in their legs going through the appropriate range of motion, but is way more fun for all of us!

Train with a group
Everything is more fun with a group! Find friends to train with, or attend a class. Not only are you and your dog going to have more fun, you are also much more likely to consistently get your dog the exercise he needs.

Switch up exercises
Repeating the same exercise week after week can get really boring very quickly. Luckily different exercises can help accomplish the same goals. For example, hat box sits combined with backing up on an objects results in rear end strength gains, and improved proprioception. Very similar gains can be seen with 4 feet in a box combined with sits to stands with front feet on an object. Combining different sets of exercises not only keeps things fun, but also increases the benefits you will see in strength gains since the muscles are used in slightly different ways.

Add challenges to a known exercise
Once your dog knows an exercise change it up! This will not only keep things fun, but it will result in a stronger dog. For example backing up is a great way to improve rear end strength. Once your dog can back up, teach him to back up onto a 2-3 inch tall object. But don’t stop there! As he gets comfortable with this object switch it up and see what he can back up onto. Can your dog backup onto an elbow height box, a fitness pod, a peanut, the couch, the stairs? What else can you think of to teach your dog to back up onto? Progress slowly and keep safety in mind, but add challenges to keep things fun!

Play to your dogs strengths
Find ways to make exercises that you and your dog find exciting! If your dog loves to put his feet on things, take advantage of that. Your dog might find sits to stands with paws on an elbow height object way more fun than sits to stands on a peanut. Make sure that you still add variety to your exercises, but consider what your dog enjoys and what he’s good at.

These same ideas apply to people too!

So get out, have fun, and increase your dog’s fitness so you can have more fun adventures together!