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).
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.