Have you noticed in the last few days that it’s gotten hot? I have. Just the other day, I turned on my AC for the first time this year! With the weather turning toward our usual summertime heat, it’s time to look at how you’re going to keep your furry friend well exercised. While you can go out for a walk or run very early or very late, weather depending, we have another suggestion. A treadmill. Yes, a treadmill – one that’s made for dogs.
At Barking Dog Fitness, we have three dog treadmills available for use, for very affordable prices! For just $99 per month, we offer a package that gives you unlimited use of the treadmills, booked by appointment in 30 minute increments. We work with you and your dog to teach your dog how to get on and use the treadmill. Then we show you how to make the most of the session for your dog. Once you’re confident, you control the workout. If you want to see one of our “all stars” in action, check out this video of Dayzee!
My dog Yankee lives to chase a tennis ball. He’ll do it for hours. I’m happy about that because he’s getting a great interval and strength training workout. He runs as fast as he can to catch the ball, then brings it back to me at a slower trotting pace. I can vary the run time by how far I throw the ball, and I can increase his trot time by walking in the opposite direction as he’s retrieving the ball.
Most human interval training experts use a rule of 1 to 3 intense burst of exercise to more moderate exercise. If you’re following this rule, you could jog for one minute and walk for three. With Yankee, I’m doing something similar, just by walking away from him while he’s running after the ball.
After he brings back the ball, I ask him to sit and wait for the next throw. Sometimes I’ll even throw in a couple of sit-to-stand or sit-to-down exercises before throwing the ball again. These exercises help keep his hind end strong.
He doesn’t know he’s getting a workout, to him it’s the greatest fun in the world. But I know, and I understand what I’m doing is helping to keep him healthy and strong.
Just like with humans, any complete exercise program for dogs should be balanced. By that I mean it should include exercises that build muscle strength and size, cardio training to build endurance, balance exercises to increase coordination and prevent injury, stretching to increase or maintain flexibility and mental stimulation to challenge your dog’s mind.
Strength training is necessary to build muscle mass to help the body move and to protect joints from injury. A strength training exercise program will vary depending on your dog, his activities and activity level. Strength exercises also need to focus on maintaining a strong core.
Cardiovascular exercise not only keeps the heart strong, but it burns calories to help keep dogs lean and fit. Most dogs don’t get enough cardio exercise, which is why so many dogs are overweight. If you’re beginning a cardio program, remember to take it slow at first and consider your dog’s age and physical ability.
When you work to improve your dog’s balance, you improve whole body awareness and increase proprioception. Proprioception is your dog’s awareness or perception of his limbs and how they move. Improved balance means improved reaction time, and decreased chance of injury, especially in older dogs.
Stretching is important in any exercise program, to improve flexibility and help reduce the likelihood of injury. The right stretching needs to consider the activity your dog is going to do and whether the muscles are cold or warm.
Mental stimulation is a necessary part of any balanced exercise program. Most dogs don’t get enough mental stimulation. This leads to boredom, which often results in behavior problems. Mental exercises engage your dog’s brain, encouraging him to think.
By including these five components into your dog’s exercise program, you’ll be sure to keep your dog healthy and fit for years to come. If you need any advice or help coming up with a program, we’d be happy to help.
Have you ever had the need to run a few errands, like go to the grocery store, and then find that you’ve run out of time to exercise your dog? If so, we have a solution! Our “Wherever You Go for an Hour or So™” program gives you the opportunity to drop your dog off for two hours, and we’ll work him out for you. Depending on your dog, exercise will consist of walking or running on one of our treadmills, strength training using our Pilates-like equipment, or a combination of both. You can even schedule a swim for your dog. After you’ve finished running around, simply come back within the two hour period and pick up your tired, happy pup. This is a great way for the busy person to keep their dog in shape! For more information, please contact us.
We were talking to WFTV Channel 9 anchor Vanessa Welch the other day as she prepares her dog Baylor for the SPCA of Central Florida’s Run for the Rescues on May 17th. Even though Baylor is participating in our twice a week weight loss boot camp, Vanessa asked what extra she should be doing to help Baylor lose the extra weight and make sure he’s in shape for the one mile run.
Interval training combines periods of intense effort with periods of moderate to low effort. It’s been used for years as a way for athletes to improve performance. Interval training increases your metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories. It also increases overall muscle strength and builds stamina. It’s easy to do, can be easily customized, and doesn’t require any special equipment. And, if it’s good for you, it’s good for your dog!
The standard starting point in any interval training program is a 1 to 3 ratio of intense activity to easier activity. This could mean that you jog or walk briskly for 10 seconds and walk more slowly for 30 seconds, or jog/walk briskly for 1 minute and walk slower for 3 minutes. Depending on your dog, aim for a 20 to 30 minute workout that includes a warm-up, the interval period and a cool-down. As your dog’s endurance improves, you can shorten the recovery time or increase the intensity. The warm-up is important for injury prevention, and the cool-down is necessary to allow your dog’s heart rate to return to normal.
Your dog is a great workout buddy. For the health of both of you, give interval training a try.