Canine Fitness Quick Tips

Dec 18, 2016



No Canine Fitness Program Is Perfect!

 What's missing from yours?



Understanding the importance of a balanced conditioning program sometimes doesn’t really “hit home” until it hits you on a very personal level. For many of us, this doesn’t happen until our dog gets injured. There is a lot that we can do to minimize the risk of injury in our dogs, and one of them is to develop a balanced conditioning program through cross-training.
Having a balanced conditioning program for your dog is more than simply doing exercises on conditioning equipment every week. It’s more than just running your dog 3-5 miles a day, multiple times per week. It’s more than just doing weight pulling, and it’s definitely more than just training for your sport only on the weekends.
What happens when your training and conditioning are too narrow? What can happen when your fitness program is not balanced?

  • Your dog’s body can become overstressed doing the same activity over and over. Using the same set of muscles repeatedly can increase the risk of repetitive use injuries.
  •  You and your dog start to become less motivated because you are always doing the same thing day in and day out.
  • Training becomes stagnant, and your dog reaches a plateau. You don’t see your dog getting faster, stronger, more agile, or better balanced.
  • You ultimately discover your dog is far less fit than you originally thought.

A balanced, weekly conditioning program involves more than just sport specific training. It should include activities that help improve your dog’s strength, flexibility, body awareness, and endurance. To help reach peak performance, cardio workouts should also include both aerobic and anaerobic activities. Some of the benefits of a well designed, cross-training program include the following:

  • A decreased likelihood of repetitive use injuries because muscles used in your primary sport get a break from the normal stresses placed on them each day while allowing time to develop strength in other areas that are typically ignored
  • Decreased boredom which can lead to an increased likelihood that you will stick with an activity
  • An increase in overall fitness, which can lead to a stronger, faster, better balanced, and more agile dog
  • Improved total fitness which can lead to enhanced performance during competition and/or at work

Simply adding more activities to your dog’s daily exercise regime does not guarantee that you will reap the benefits of a cross-training program. In order to safely get started, consider the following:

  • Start by doing an honest assessment of your current fitness program. What are you doing well? What are you ignoring? Which components of a balanced program are missing from your weekly training routine?
  • Identify ways to integrate activities into your current training program that will strengthen your dog’s areas of weakness.
  • Study, ask questions, and seek help so that you understand how to safely and effectively integrate new activities into your program.
  • Start gradually and give your dog’s body time to adjust.

There are so many fun and exciting ways to cross-train with your dog. Not only will your dog reap the physical and psychological benefits, it can also enhance the bond that you and your dog have with one another. If you missed it in a previous email and would like to learn how I’m starting a new cross-training program with my Malinois Knoxx, check out my blog entry "Fitness for You AND Your Dog"!

As the New Year is approaching, now is a great time to set new goals for both you and your dog. I hope adding a more balanced conditioning program to your current training regime is one of them!



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