There are 10 essential steps to having great workouts with your dog. If you follow these 10 steps, you will increase the effectiveness, increase the safety, and increase the enjoyment from each and every workout with your dog. Here are the first 5 of these Essential Steps, taken from our K9 Fitness Journal.
Step 1: Motivation.
The first step to a great workout with your dog is understanding why you are doing it. What is your reason for fitness training with your dog? Is it to enhance performance? Or reduce the risk of your dog getting injured? Or maybe, you want to prepare your dog for your sport so your dog can have a long, and successful career. Try to hone in on your number one reason.
Now you need to know what motivates your dog. Is it the high value food? The tug of the toy or the toss of the ball? Is it your undivided attention? You need to understand what your dog values and how much it is valued. Too little value and you will have trouble convincing your dog to do an exercise. Too much value and it will be difficult to contain her enthusiasm.
Step 2: Be safe.
Your dog’s safety should always be your top concern in fitness. Have your dog cleared by your veterinarian before starting an exercise program. This is especially important if your dog has had a previous injury or might be older. Be aware of any new issues that pop up. Your K9 athlete may need to revisit the vet and be cleared again.
Once you start a workout program, be sure the program is safe. Fitness training should be progressive over time, but it must be done safely, incrementally, and progress only when your dog shows signs of being ready to move on to harder exercises. Doing too much, too soon is dangerous.
Step 3: Keep it positive.
Fitness training should be a positive experience for both you and your dog! It is important to keep the overall process positive. Use training techniques that create a safe environment for your dog to be free to try new things and learn new exercises.
Step 4: Get focused.
Choose your workout area wisely. Pick an area free of distractions for both you and your dog. Then choose an appropriate time of day when your dog is focused and fresh, ready to workout. And since you are your dog’s workout partner, you will need to be fresh and ready to participate too. Devote the time and attention that is necessary to see the results you want.
Step 5: Watch your step.
All exercises should be done on flooring that provides adequate traction and cushion. We wear our gym shoes when we workout, but your dog is working out barefoot. He has only the traction of his pads and the floor he is on to keep him from slipping. If the flooring is hard with little to no give, his joints must absorb the impact of his movements. Use appropriate flooring and save the strain on his body.
To read all 10 steps immediately and learn other fitness tips, including warm ups for fitness workouts and understanding the K9 Fitness Pyramid please join our email list. When you do, you'll receive our free K9 Fitness Journal.