When you leave for the day, does your dog get depressed, lonely and bored? Have you been thinking of sending him to doggie daycare? If so, what should you be looking for?
Just like selecting a daycare for your child, choosing the right doggie daycare takes time and research. Your first consideration should be convenience. The facility location should be close to where you travel each day and the drop off and pick up times must be in alignment with your schedule. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, call each one. Some questions to ask are:
When you tour the facility, make sure you see the entire facility, not just the parts they want you to see. Does it have both an indoor and outdoor space? It’s best if it does. Notice the smell and cleanliness of the entire space. Look carefully at how many dogs there are in each play area, and how many attendants there are in that same area. Dog fights more readily happen when too many dogs are placed together and the facility is either understaffed or employees aren’t properly trained. Too many dogs grouped together in one space causes a lot of stress for the dogs. In this case, your dog may go home tired, but it’s from stress, not from playing all day.
Once you’re satisfied with the facility, its cleanliness, policies, pricing, etc., look closely at what your dog will be doing each day. Too many daycare facilities do absolutely nothing with your dog all day. There’s no one-on-one attention, no mental stimulation, and no real exercise. This is especially true of larger facilities where there are many dogs in daycare each day. There’s no way your dog will get any individual attention. True, dogs will get to play with one another, but research has shown that dogs in a group spend 60% of their time resting. They may play for a bit, but then they either stand or lie around the rest of the time.
If you have a dog that loves a having job, needs mental stimulation, wants individual attention, has energy to burn, or needs to get in shape, look for a doggie daycare that takes less dogs each day, has a dog trainer working with the dogs each day, and has a solid program in place to ensure there’s appropriate exercise for each dog, based on the dog’s age and physical condition. I may be biased, but in central Florida, the only place to get that is Barking Dog Fitness! Call us anytime to schedule your tour.
Just like a cool down period is important for us after exercising, dogs need to be allowed to do the same. This is important for muscle recovery and will flush out lactic acid and other metabolites which can cause muscle soreness. The cool down period should be about 5 to 10 minutes. This will allow your dog’s body temperature and heart rate to slow down. He may be thirsty but don’t allow him to gulp large amounts of water at one time as this could lead to digestive upsets or worse.
Many dogs just want to keep going and going or they immediately want to stop exercising when they get tired. Whether your dog realizes it or not, slowing the pace first as a cooling off period is better for him and the responsible thing to do as a pet parent. He’ll feel much better later.
Cross training is the healthiest way to keep your dog physically fit because it builds endurance and strength. Endurance involves running or swimming long distances and gradually increasing the distance, intensity and time.
Strength entails working, pulling and up-hill work for short periods at maximum intensity. Treadmills are great for training because they can be elevated up to 25 degrees. What you must keep in mind is that the treadmill should be made specifically for dogs. Using a human treadmill can be dangerous your dog – for example, their claws can get caught in the gaps between the belt and side rails. You can also reduce the lifespan of your treadmill by putting a dog on it. The motor housing isn’t designed to handle dog hair. At Barking Dog Fitness, we use DogTread® treadmills.
Isometric type exercise also builds strength. There are many different pieces of equipment such as FitPAWS® that can be used to enhance and maximize the effort.
How hard to work your dog depends upon your dog’s age and physical condition. Simply vary the intensity, frequency, duration and method of training based on these factors. A word of caution – your dog should never be left unattended while working on equipment and should be constantly monitored for his safety.
Conditioning activities can be incorporated in to every dog’s routine – age and physical condition isn’t a factor. All dogs benefit.
When we exercise, for the most part, we know the steps we need to take to prevent potential injury and muscle soreness. Unfortunately, we don’t always put these steps into practice. Sometimes we may be lazy with our exercise practices, but we can’t be lazy with our dogs. Our dogs count on us for almost everything, and following the proper exercise routine is necessary to insure good physical conditioning and minimize injury and soreness. The steps include proper warm-up, specific conditioning techniques and a cooling-down period. In this post, we’re going to talk about proper warm-up.
As muscles are stretched, they are warmed up bringing increased blood flow to muscles, tendons and ligaments. This reduces the potential for injury. A five to ten minute warm-up won’t tire your dog but helps minimize glycogen depletion and lactic acid build-up, something most of us have felt one time or another when we’ve exercised hard. Depending on the final exercise you’re aiming for, warm –up exercises could include a slow walk or the more intense playing fetch, throwing a ball or Frisbee for a few minutes.
There are some dog experts that don’t believe that dogs need to warm up prior to exercise. The decision to warm up your dog should be based on his/her physical needs and fitness level. If your dog is overweight, has joint problems or is older, or will be participating in a vigorous competition, warming-up prior to the activity is a smart idea.
It’s well known that personal trainers and medical professionals stress the importance of core strength in order to maintain a strong and healthy body. The same is true for dogs. Core muscles for us and our dogs support the back, which subsequently supports the entire body. They maintain balance and allow us to be mobile whether we have two or four legs. The core is actually more than just the abdominal muscles. They are all the muscles that lie close to the center of the body that stabilize the trunk, spine and pelvis.
Canine core strengthening has many benefits. For example, an older arthritic dog can use those muscles to take stress off both the hind and front legs. A strong core is crucial for active athletic dogs or long backed dogs such as dachshunds or corgis to help prevent injury. Core strengthening also provides the following benefits for your dog:
• Protects the back making it less susceptible to injury;
• Increases stability so the trunk becomes stronger, thereby decreases the stress to weaker limbs;
• Strengthens the center of gravity;
• Improves posture, balance and shape;
• Improves performance during exercise and sports.
There are a number of exercises you can do to strengthen your dog’s core. Simple exercises like sit to stand, play bows, or roll-overs can work the core muscles, especially if you’re working on a surface that is not flat or stable. Standing on a therapy ball will also engage your dog’s core because it’s an unstable surface. It’s just like us doing crunches. If your dog is only limited to a level surface, such as walking on pavement or playing in your flat back yard, chances are his core will be weak.
One of the best things you can do for your dog is to ensure that he maintains strong core muscles. The benefits are undeniable!