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Warm Up Exercises for Your Dog

Now that winter is almost here, and it will soon be colder outside, it’s important to think of warming up your dog’s muscles prior to any exercise, like going for a jog. Warming up prior to exercise is important all year long but is especially important during colder months. Even if all you do is take your dog for a brisk walk, it’s important to warm up beforehand.Yorky standing exercise

So why warm up?

Because it prevents possible injury.

Human athletes know the benefit of warming up before physical activity. The same thing applies to dogs. Not warming up increases the chances for injury. Injuries not only cost money, but they are hard to manage with dogs. Crate rest and short leash walks are not something your dog understands, especially if he’s used to being active. Plus the muscle atrophy that can occur while on crate rest can take a lot of work to rebuild.

Warming up is not the same as stretching!

Stretching should be done after exercise, with muscles that are already warmed.

The idea behind warming up is to increase respiration and heart rate, which increases oxygen and blood flow to the muscles. When muscles are properly warmed up, they lengthen, become more pliable and are more ready to bend, flex and move.

Warm up exercises don’t have to be complicated, long, or boring.

Depending on what activitDog high 5 exercisey your dog will be doing, warm ups can be quite simple, such as doing a few minutes of slow walking prior to a brisk walk.

It’s also important to time your warm up so that your dog doesn’t cool off prior to engaging in his exercise activity. If, for example, your dog is competing in agility, you’ll need to keep him warmed up before each run. Once he stops moving, his muscles start to cool off. And remember that the colder the weather, the longer and more gradual the warmup should be.

Need some warm up exercise ideas? Here are some suggestions.

  • Simple but effective. Before a more strenuous exercise, walk for several minutes.
  • Have your dog turn around in circles a few times. Make sure you do circles to the left and circles to the right.
  • Weave in, out and around your legs.
  • Playing tug. This game is great for full body movement and is an excellent active stretching exercise.
  • Sit to stand to sit.
  • Play bow. This exercise gives your dog a great active stretch of the spine, hips and shoulders.
  • Cookie stretches. Use a treat and move your dog’s head to the left so he moves his head to as close to his hind end as possible, then to the right doing the same thing.

While this may seem unnecessary, warming up prior to exercise is very important. Take the time to do this. Make sure you base the warm up on the activity he will be doing. The end result will be worth it. You’ll possibly be preventing injury, and subsequent rehabilitation, something either you or your beloved dog don’t want to go through.