Many things should be considered when designing a K9 Fitness/Conditioning program for you and your dog. There is not a “one size fits all” conditioning program. It is not just about tossing your dog up on a piece of equipment. The position the dog is in can make a huge difference in the muscles they are using and if the exercise is improving strength or causing weakness.
Things to consider when designing a conditioning program:
· Your dog’s age
· Current physical condition of the dog
· Has your dog had previous injury
· What sport or sports is your dog involved in
· Have you gotten any guidance on using equipment safely
· Competition schedule
· Do YOU have any physical limitation that may affect your ability to support your dog
· Do you have the space needed to complete the exercise ( living room, backyard, garage)
· Do you have a non-slip surface for your dog to work on
· Are you willing to devote 10-20 minutes at least three times a week to improve performance and reduce the change of injury in your dog.
A full body program should include exercises that improve the following:
· Weight distribution
· Overall strength
A warm up and cool down strategy should be in place before and after performance and fitness training. The recommendation is to spend 5-10 minutes warming up your dog and 5-10 minutes cooling down your dog. Developing a routine that you and your dog can do before each run can only increase your dog’s connection to you, improve speed and accuracy in movement as well as decrease the chance of injury.
If you are in the process of designing a program for your dog I hope this list of considerations helps you to pick exercises that are appropriate for your dog's age, current physical condition and the activities you are involved in. I also hope that it you have not sought out proper training, that this will encourage you to do so. Better to make sure that what you are doing is helping and not hurting your dog.
Questions and comments are always welcome
Bobbie Lyons, Cert CF
Bobbie Lyons, CCFT, KPA CPT