Your dog’s fitness is just as important as yours when it comes to their overall health.
Healthy dogs will want a routine that gives them a lot of ways to play and interact with you. Exercise helps pups maintain their energy and build a strong immune system at any age.
But owners sometimes neglect their dog’s exercise, or don’t offer enough variety with the exercises.
“Out of all the dogs that we see, I would say about 60% of dogs are out of shape,” said Kim Bissing, owner and head dog trainer at Beyond the Leash.
Getting out your dog’s energy and keeping them healthy is vital -- but overdoing it is easier than you think. Some dog breeds don’t stop exercising when they’re tired -- so pet owners have to think about their pet’s limits, and be careful not to over-exercise them.
When you are planning your pet’s fitness, be sure to change up the exercises. Doing the same exercises just work out the same muscles and joints, and can lead to strain or imbalances over time, causing their body to weaken in those areas. Instead, switch up the routine and work through all of the muscle groups.
“What we’ll do is make a little schedule and just try to do: a Monday, Wednesday, Friday is a nice walk. And then Tuesday and Thursday might be more stretches, or getting your dog’s body to move in a different way,” Bissing said.
Just like humans, dogs need to warm up before exercising. Sit-to-down and sit-to-stands are great ways to engage their muscles.
“Little light things like stepping their front feet up onto a block, and slowly moving them around with a treat just from side to side., moving their head up and down with a treat,” Bissing said.
Be sure to let your dog have some rest, too. After a long run or intense training, make sure they recover by doing some cool-down stretches and massage their muscles.
And if you want to keep track of just how much your dog is exercising, there are fitness trackers made especially for them. Just like a FitBit or smart watch, these trackers will count your dog’s steps, track its heart rate and monitor its sleeping habits. They also work as a GPS, just in case you need to find your dog.