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Exercising the Dogs

Posted on 08/27/09 15 Comments

Keeping in the theme of the week,  today I am going to give you a brief run down on some of the activities I use to keep my dogs fit throughout the year. Before I do though I will mention that I like to give my dogs 6-8 continuous weeks off from their main sport at some point during the year. For me that time has been from the mid November to mid January. I have always done that for my dogs. A chance to get their mind and body away from the stresses of agility. We walk, swim and often work on tricks and obedience training. I may work a low impact, game like nose targeting but no running across full equipment or jumping and turning.

I look at it as a time for all of us to re-charge mentally and to give a chance for muscles to re-hab themselves. I think this break keeps an edge for my dogs plus if there are any soft-tissue issues brewing it removes the demands for a while.

My dogs are not on any regimented exercise program.  What I do is more just me enjoying my dogs, walking in the fields or snow, teaching tricks, working on core strength and general fitness. We do something together every day (when I am home). John gets them out to run when I am not home and I know both the dogs and I appreciate that he does. Their running is more sprint work and trot/walking then jogging.

My puppies get tons of chase games and  exercise alone with me until they are responsive to me on walks and at least 6 months old. I don’t like the idea of running puppies with adult dogs, there is just too big a risk of a pup getting run down, tee boned or really seriously injured so I don’t take that risk. The time alone on walks with me is great as it gives the puppy and I a chance to bond together. Plus I get to play hide n seek if the pup gets distracted and leaves me.

I like to walk in our fields where the surface is uneven and their are lots of hills. The walk is  about 1 km around and we do it 2-3 times normally. In addition I like to take my youngsters to a safe wooded area where there are groomed trails. The photo below shows Feature as a puppy as she would run and play over the trees lying across a friend’s cross country type trail (which was designed with input from Susan Salo btw).  

Puppy fitness in the woods.
Feature as a puppy; fitness in the woods.

These days I do a number of things for my adults dog’s fitness. Including hill running with each other around the property. Going for walks in the forest nearby is a special treat we enjoy especially in the fall when the colours are so amazing. I swim my dogs all year round as I feel this is particularly good for them. Sometimes they swim in the pond other times in a pool with a current to swim against. Some times I have them wear lifejackets just to work their muscles differently. 

I used to use a treadmill for the dogs but sold it recently as swimming has taken over.  I now occasionally let them go in the underwater treadmill (when we are up at Auntie Leslies:)). I do low jump grids across hills, some occasional retrieve games and lots of chase games.

In the winter just walking through the snow is an awesome work out but my girls all loved to chase and catch snow balls as well. Throughout the year I use exercise balls and balance discs for all the dogs for core strengthening (working compression as well as extending) along with other proprioception games, tricks and stretches as seen in the video clip below.  Enjoy!

Today I am grateful for generosity of people. There are SO many people in my life that I turn to for advise, assistance, or to answer questions about an area I lack expertise and without hesitation, they give it to me freely. At the risk of missing someone, I won’t attempt to name everyone who shares their gifts with me, but you know who you are and I wanted you all to know I really do feel abundantly blessed to have  you as part of my life.


  1. Linda says:
    Monday, December 29, 2014 at 10:36am

    Where can the balance things be bought for the feet, i live in canada?


  2. sharon empson says:
    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 10:58pm

    Susan: I really like how you list what you are grateful for in your blogs. We all need to be grateful and thankful more don’t we? I know I sure do. It has been a long haul with my dog and deprograming them… and I have been frustrated at times! But I am so grateful for these little dogs the Lord has given me. Thanks for helping me to remember to be thankful and grateful and to express the gratefulness and thankfulness for my life to others. sharon empson


  3. Mary Ann Kras says:
    Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 10:21pm

    WOW! How are you? You go for walks with the dogs? Karen and I still do – just about everyday. We have over 100 acres with sheep and other livestock, fields, woods, a swamp, and everyone works. I miss you! It is still a tough ride but dogs do make it all bearable. Good luck with everything – my best to John!
    Cheers – Mary Ann


  4. kim h says:
    Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 5:29pm

    love what you do with your dogs. like that you mix it up with them. i find it keeps them interested. i do lots of different things with my dogs too. i bike with a attachment for the dog so they can run safely where i live.


  5. denise says:
    Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 8:51am

    Any chance of the recipe for Lynda’s homemade Tuna treats? I like trying out new treats especially if they are ones I can make myself 🙂


  6. Joanie says:
    Saturday, August 29, 2009 at 7:39pm

    What are the balance disc/balls called that you use? I’ve been trying to find some of the smaller ones, but not a lot of luck.

    Love the paws, well, actually love the whole video! Many thanks!


  7. My Dog Training Blog says:
    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 11:08pm

    This is a great write up and I’m so impressed on how much you actually get out and about with your canines! Not many people can claim they spend that much time with them. Gotta love it.


  8. Tina says:
    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 10:13pm

    What are some examples of chase games? isn’t retrieve a chase game?


    • Susan says:
      Friday, August 28, 2009 at 6:56am

      By chase I mean the dog chasing you as in a restrained recall for example.


  9. Lynne Helmhold says:
    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 8:45pm

    Hi Susan

    Slightly off topic.

    I believe you feed a raw diet to your dogs. My question is: What treats do you use when training?



    • Susan says:
      Friday, August 28, 2009 at 6:59am

      If I am training in the evening I use their meal so I cut up the chicken necks at night into small pieces and use them. If it is a morning session I take a tablespoon and an extra bowl and feed the dog their raw mix from the spoon with the empty bowl under the spoon to catch any spillage. Other wise I use homemade Tuna treats that Lynda makes, cut up carrot pieces and some store bought treats–usually a mixture.


  10. Christine says:
    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 8:43pm

    Ok I understand the ‘different angle’ now! Buzz looks so happy in the water treadmill. It’s great to see the the old boy get his own special ‘spa’.

    Is the hand stand something you teach in puppy or skills?


  11. Laurie Graichen says:
    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 12:40pm

    Sigh……..I want to come back as one of Susan’s dogs when I die. What an ideal location for owning dogs in.

    Thanks for posting this video, I got some great ideas on more things to do with my guys.

    What is the thing that looks like a tiny indoor pool that was in a couple clips? Is it indeed a pool with a filter, drain, etc? Could it stand alone without being fitted to a drain/sewer system?

    In the water treadmill clip I saw the jets were on – was the treadmill itself running, and was there a fitness purpose for having toys in the treadmill or were they just for rewarding the dog?


    • Susan says:
      Friday, August 28, 2009 at 7:01am

      It is a lap pool with a current running at one end. You can use it indoors or out (indoors you do need a separate air handling system for the room). In the clip of Buzzy on the treadmill it was not turned on, using it more as a Jacuzzi, all the jets were turned on for him.


  12. Michelle says:
    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 8:32am

    I love the aquarium with the dog in it !!


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