Spring is just around the corner, and with Spring comes outdoors and exercise! If you have been a bit of a couch potato, now is the time to get up, get out, and get moving! That being said, it is important not to overdo it. Our dogs are generally less active during the winter months. Just like their parents, dogs need to ease into a full-blown workout.
One of the most important first steps that you must take if you are considering starting a weight loss/exercise program with your dog is to make sure that both of you are healthy enough for exercise. Visit your doctor, and have a complete physical done, discussing your plan of action. At the same time, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Make sure to include him in the good news of including your best friend as your workout partner.
For best results when including your best friend in your exercise program, be sure to start slowly. This is important for both you and the dog. Start by taking your dog on a 20 minute walk. Stop to take a break as many times as needed over the course of 20 minutes. After your exercise session, evaluate how you feel. Could you have gone longer or faster? Was it a challenge or relatively easy? If you find that it was easy, add another two or three minutes on your next walk. Be careful to not increase your exercise program too quickly. Studies show that in order to gain PAWsitive benefits, 10 percent should be added to the total time of your exercise session each week.
Introduce Cone “Warm-ups”
Begin to add specific cone exercises to your warm ups, increasing in intensity each week. If you don’t have cones on hand, try a placing a heavy paper plate on the ground (Chinet works great!). Some great cone warm ups for you and your dog include:
- Wagging weaves
- Wide figure eight
- Tight figure eight
- Large circles
- Tight turns
Introduce FitPAWS® Equipment
Once you have mastered the basics, try adding FitPAWS® equipment to your workout. This adds to the challenge and increases the intensity. Adding this equipment to your dog’s cross-training activities 3-4 times a week has many benefits, including:
- Improved reaction and control
- Increased trunk and core strength
- Stabilization of weak areas
- Improved balance and proprioception (awareness of the body’s position in space)
- Increased range of motion in joints & elongation of the muscles
- Improved sensory & body awareness
- Preventing sports-related injuries
Focus on exercises to increase hind leg strength and explosive power such as “puppy-squats” on the FitPAWS® Peanuts. Try reps of “puppy push-ups” for increasing overall core strength. The FitPAWS Peanuts are great for core strength training AND stretching exercises. Improve your dog’s flexibility by stretching your dog over the saddle of the Peanut for a cool down session. Cross training on a FitPAWS Peanut 3-4 times a week produces big results that you can’t get from your typical agility equipment; it’s all about instability training that instantly activates core and stabilizer muscles which are the powerhouse of your dog’s body.
Make the time to exercise with your dog. You will not only feel and look better, you will also reduce the risk of heart disease, lower your blood pressure, lessen your risk for allergies, and lower your level of stress.
So get up, get out, get moving and make a commitment to add some spring to your Spring!