It appears that we will all be spending more time home then we were planning on. This might be disappointing to our two-legged family members but I bet your pets are excited for the extra quality time. Your dog and cat do not understand social distancing and will likely want to spend the day with you. When I look at fitness for a dog it is all about function. I do not train for agility I condition dogs to walk pain-free and be as strong, balanced and coordinated for their daily life.
While your spending time with your dog observe them standing and see if your dog can stand still for 10-15 seconds before having to sit. When your dog sits down are their legs tucked in tight, like they could spring into action at any moment, or is one hip/knee rotated out to the side. Can your dog even get into a sit or does he/she lay down instead? How about when they walk with you, is your pup keeping up or falling behind? We know that 1 in 5 dogs has arthritis; that is not senior dogs, that is all dogs. What can you do while your home now that can be beneficial for you and your pup? IF you can maintain your social distancing you can walk your dog. We know that moving those legs (human and dog alike) improves muscle strength, energy level, weight loss, circulation, and many more benefits. We do not want to push any dog that is painful or uncomfortable, but we do not want to stop their walks. If your dog is not conditioned to walk then I start with going one house length and back, once that is easy you increase to two house lengths and back. When possible get your pup to your veterinarian for evaluation to see if there is anything you can do to improve mobility and pain control. Rehabilitation veterinarians and physical therapists are able to create personalized conditioning plans for your pup that can help improve daily function and comfort.
The AKC has a pretty cool program for helping to keep people and dogs motivated, the AKC FIT DOG Program. Following the American Heart Association’s recommendations of walking for at least 150 minutes per week, they have set a challenge to get us moving. (see below)
Please stay safe during this time and if you feel your pet (dog or cat) would benefit from and functional fitness evaluation please feel free to email, DM or call.
You can order your free magnet when you and your dog have met one of these fitness goals:
1. Walked at least 30 minutes 5 times per week for a total of at least 150 minutes per week for at least 3 months. For dogs and people in good shape.
2. Walked at least 15 minutes per session at least 10 times per week (e.g., two 15-min walks per day) for at least 3 months. For dogs or people who would benefit from a walk that is a shorter duration, e.g., senior dogs.