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 Days, Tenacious 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!
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!|
|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|
|Using a tree to show off "paws up!"|
|Now the other side!|
|Rear end awareness on a hunk of lumber.|
|Balancing on a narrow walkway|
|Tandem paws up!|
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:
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.|
How do you keep your pup fit?
- Dachshund Mommy