In addition to traditional pet obedience and fun pet tricks like “speak,” you can teach your dog several at-home fitness-related skills and do fitness drills with your dog! Why would you want to do that? To:
Watching your dog learn “new tricks” and accomplish tasks – such as balancing or figuring out how to shake with a rear paw - provides you with an adrenaline rush and a feeling of pride. Your dog would love to work for 10-20 pieces of his kibble by doing drills with you a few times a week. Engaging with your dog one-on-one also helps to build the special bond between you and your pooch.
You can do many exercises safely at home without having to drive to a dog class or battle poor weather conditions! Of course, you can always take what you’re doing at home and practice your dog fitness skills at a park or in a hotel room.
Obtain physical benefits for your dog.
Dogs who are healthy and fit enjoy slower onset of both physical and cognitive deterioration associated with aging. You can help keep your dog’s mind and body sharp by doing some fitness training at home each week. Watch lean muscle mass improve, flexibility increase, range of motion stay healthy, and body fat decrease!
Challenge your dog mentally.
Having an active lifestyle improves mental health and mood! Hounds that are not using enough of their brain power may end up acting out or displaying other behavior problems. You’ve heard the saying “a tired dog is a good dog” and this applies to mental exercise too! Dogs who are concentrating on performing tasks that require proprioception - controlling where their bodies are in space - while simultaneously trying to listen and learn from their humans use a lot of pup brain power!
Dogs want to do things correctly and feel successful! Dogs who are used to working with their humans and that think compliance with commands is fun are more confident and happier pets. In addition, as a result of more positive, interactive training at home, dogs become better listeners to your commands both in and outside of the home.
How do you get started on this nose-to-tail fun? Stay tuned for Jasey Day’s Fit Dogs blog series! You can also check out classes at your local training facilities to see if they offer any canine fitness classes (puppy pilates, anyone?) or find a Certified Canine Fitness Trainer (CCFT) near you.
Just as humans check with their doctors before engaging in new fitness routines, dogs’ owners should check with their veterinarians before proceeding. If you ever see any changes in your dog’s health or notice any discomfort, stop the activity and contact your veterinarian. Also note that nutrition is a huge component of health and will also impact fitness. Talk to your veterinarian or see a veterinary nutritionist for help with the right nutrition plan for your pup, especially if you are trying to trim your dog down.