Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Positive Pet Training Blog Hop: Active Dogs - Parkour and Stretching and Conditioning Equipment, Oh My!

Hey, everyone!

Thank you so much for all the wonderful, kind, and supportive comments on our new addition! Rule, as she has been christened, says thank you.

Today I'm participating in the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, hosted by Rubicon DaysTenacious Little Terrier, and Cascadian Nomads. January's theme is "National Train You Dog Month", and as always, any positive-based training posts are accepted.

I debated on doing a sort of "Plans for 2016" training post, but quickly dropped the idea in favor of something I've been really enjoying lately, and something that I feel is invaluable to those of us with active dogs, or any dogs, really!

What's that, you ask? Fitness, and how to keep your dog's body strong and healthy!

2015 was my year of getting fit and healthy. I quit sugar in late December of 2014, and aside from yogurt, peanut butter, and natural sugars like fruit and honey, haven't had any since then. I've kept up with yoga 4-7 days a week. I started running and walking, and have been consistently doing 5 to 10 miles a day. I quit gluten, I'm careful with getting enough sleep, and eat incredibly healthy.

I had one small cold in October, but was otherwise 100% healthy. In the years before, I'd be sick 5+ times a year. My moods are stable, my skin is clear for the first time in my life, I feel amazing, and I am so happy. I can't imagine it's much different for our dogs!

Having a fit and healthy dog has always been a top priority of mine. The vast majority of dachshund owners do not exercise their dogs, leading to overweight dogs and more back problems than you can shake a stick at. I refuse to have that for my Doxie girls, or Pike or Rule. Aside from a good diet, exercise is one of the best tools for a healthy dog. These are some simple, fun training activities you can do with your dog to help increase strength, balance, flexibility, and overall stamina.

Disclaimer: Know thy dog. These exercises are preformed by young, healthy dogs with no medical problems. Be careful!


Something I've become a little obsessed with lately is Parkour for dogs, or "Barkour", as it is sometimes called. Parkour training is a way of using your environment as an obstacle course, involving climbing, jumping, running, vaulting, ect. It's the same thing for dogs! 
I like it because you don't need any fancy equipment (I'm cheap!), and anywhere you go can offer different challenges for you and your dog. Everything from trees to fences to picnic tables to playgrounds can be used! You can even earn titles in the sport from The International Dog Parkour Training Association. I may try both Nola and Rule for these soon. 

I only started the girls on this about a week and a half ago, but already they're picking it up and loving it. It's Nola's favorite time of day! 

Some cues used in the below photos:
Paws Up! (front feet on object)
Up! (jump onto object)
Pretty (sit pretty/beg)
Stand (stand on hind legs)
Climb (self explanatory) 
Up on here (walk along an elevated surface)

Climbing over an obstacle 

We're working on going under, too!
Climbing up

Climbing down 

Up on a bucket

Up on a cinderblock 

Increasing difficulty by having her back feet on the bucket, and her front on my leg. 


Standing up on a cinderblock. Bonus core and rear workout!

She's such a happy dog!

Balancing on a narrow board

Paws up

Jumping off

Using a tree to show off "paws up!"

Now the other side!

Rear end awareness on a hunk of lumber. 

Paws up

Balancing on a narrow walkway

Tandem paws up!

And again!


Any athlete, human or canine, needs to have warm ups, cool downs, and stretches. Warming up literally warms and ready the muscles and sinews for activity. Cool downs allow the body to work out  lactic acid, prevents stiffness and soreness, and lets the heart and respiratory rate to return to normal. Stretching helps to maintain flexibility and fluidity, allows blood to better circulate, and greatly reduces the risk of injury. 
I do all three of these with the girls before a Parkour session, before a run or long walk, before an intense play session (especially tug), and before working on physically demanding tricks.

For cool warm ups and cool downs, I'll have them do a few sit/down/stand/repeat drills, a quick brisk walk and/or backing up or other rear end awareness exercises. It only takes a few minutes, and helps to get the girls into a training mood.

For stretching, I follow the things listed here. They're easy to put on cue!

Conditioning: Poses and  Equipment

There are a few great poses your dog can learn to help build muscles. Sit pretty (or beg) is fantastic for building core strength. I do this one a lot with Nola; having a strong back and core reduces the risk of back issues. Standing on the hind legs builds both the rear muscles as well as balance. Holding positioning, or changing position, on some kind of balancing equipment not only builds balance, but also overall strength.

Two great resources on Facebook are Canine Conditioning and Body Awareness, and Structure in Motion - Too!

I'm a sucker for dog gear of all kinds, and fitness and conditioning gear is no exception. Currently we only have a FitPaws donut, but this month I'm planning on ordering several others, including:

Paw Pods

Balance Disc


Wobble Board

Since I'm cheap, I'll be buying the human version of these (and perhaps having my dad make a wobble board). Half the price and just as sturdy!

Nola and Rule also do 3-5 miles of walking and about a mile of running a day with me, in addition to play, with both me and all the dogs together. Those two are both high energy dogs, while Pike and Olivia lean more towards moderate and low, respectively.

Keeping your dogs in good body conditioning also greatly reduces the risk of injuries. Nola and Rule score as 4s on the Purina body condition chart, where Pike is a 5 and Olivia a 4. It's hard to see on Pike and Liv due to their coats, but you can see it well on the smoothies.
This one shows the muscling on both girls. 

Nola's admirable rear. 

Rule is naturally thin and narrow. 

Nola's waist

And again

How do you keep your pup fit?

- Dachshund Mommy


  1. Congratulations on your fitness makeover last year! What a terrific endorsement for exercise and a healthy diet. Your dogs look fantastic also. Toby reached his healthy weight several months ago. We walk him 2-3 miles a day, with a 6 mile off-leash hike about once a week, weather permitting (there's a very underused park with woodland trails nearby). Ted has built two agility jumps and we got a tunnel, hopefully more agility this spring as the weather warms up. I love the parkour idea. Food for thought.

  2. This is so fun. I am committed to training Cocoa more this year. Tricks and behavior and also taking her new places to run. Your pups all look wonderful!! I know how much better I feel all day if I start the day with a run!!

  3. That is a real aerobic workout. It's great you have thought of something that is good for Nola's back, you have to be so careful with Dachshunds don't you.
    Elliot loves his walks on the beach and it keeps him in good condition.
    Lynne x

  4. Fantastic. We totally need that wobble board for me
    Lily (& Edward)

  5. Wow - Rule is really fitting in with the pack and catching on quickly!! And I love that Nola can climb that ladder - think I'll start working on that :)

  6. Parkour is so cool! Thank you for introducing it to me. We do those sorts of things all the time to add a little extra mental and physical stimulation to our daily walks. I am so excited that we could make it an official sport. I also appreciate the stretching reminder in this post. Our SAMP taught me those stretches and we do them everyday! I am so glad you joined the hop.

  7. Love the photos of the dogs practicing. We have a FitBone and do conditioning exercises with that.

  8. They are so cute practicing together!

    We do a lot of parkour and conditioning exercises, too!

  9. What smart doggies! Great pictures, too!

  10. Great stuff! I think I might've seen a parkour class for pups on-line someplace! Your pups are very very fit! Shyla is too, although the "sit pretty" isn't an easy one. I am still at the 5-10 tries per day level, being worried about her spine. For R, I have him wave with his bad front limb to stretch the muscles, and I have him "take a bow" to stretch his shoulders. I know he's in a lot of pain now so I'm trying to prevent him from getting his whole body into a state of muscle spasm from the pain!

    Let us know how it works out to get or make cheaper versions of those dog fitness toys. I looked at the prices and said "forget it"! I'd love ideas for cheaper ways...

    Great post!

  11. Your dogs look great.

    Someone in a local dog group just posted a workshop for dog parkour! Very interesting stuff.

    I keep my dogs fit by taking them to play chuck it daily, swimming [a local dog pool opened up last year so we have access to an indoor heated pool all year round], flirt pole, spring pole, and I also have a slat mill [a dog powered treadmill]. We rotate through our activities depending on the weather.

  12. Wow! That takes talent!
    Parkour for dogs? Who knew!!!??
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  13. Hi hi hi! Ojo here! Happy Train-Your-Dog-Month! You guys are pawesome - that looks great! Our person has been thinking about Doggy Parkour for ME to try! I already know how to put my paws up on tree trunks, and weave around trees, and walk along logs, but looking at what you do there is so much more to learn! Hurray for a new year of learning, and hurray for your pawesome person who takes the time to play fun training games with you!!!

  14. Rule has the sweetest face! Oh, and congrats on your new addition! I'm so glad you were able to find such a great medium-sized fit for your littles!

    We love Parkour, too! Nala's favorite thing in the world is putting her paws on things and climbing on them--and it's made her so much more comfortable and confident out in the world, seeing it as a fun obstacle course instead of a place full of potentially weird, scary things.


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