The dog and his fitness training

You probably know very well how fitness is beneficial for us. But it is equally important for the dogs.

Physical fitness is very good for the mental well-being and the body’s of the dog. It improves physical endurance, flexibility, coordination and performance. In certain breeds / some dog, exercise will help with anxiety problems and / or stress. Physical fitness is also very beneficial for burning calories.

Does your dog have a medical condition? If so, it would be good idea to consult your veterinarian before starting any training program. For some medical conditions, exercise is very beneficial, while for other medical conditions, intense physical conditioning could be very harmful. While it is healthy to exercise it would be a good idea to have an appointment with your veterinarian just in case.

It is always important to start gradually any fitness program, just like with humans.

In your plan, you should give importance to your dog energy level, his body structure, his medical condition, if there is one and his current physical condition. Do you plan to compete in any dog ​​sport? If so, it would be good to design a plan that will serve for the chosen sport.

In your plan you should take into account the intensity, duration and frequency of the exercises.

The amount of exercise will vary from dog to dog, depending on the temperament, breed, age, temperature and physical condition.

Careful about the type of exercise you want to engage with a puppy. Puppies can be very fragile. Usually the growth plates can take up to 14 months before completing their growth in large breeds sometimes even more in giant breed. A young large breed puppy training for agility should not jump higher than its height (not above the knee) before the age of 14 months. The A frame should not be used to its maximum height before the age of 14 months. Slalom should not be started before the age of 14 months due to the weaving caused on the spine. No endurance exercise should be done with less than 14 month old puppy.

Geriatric dogs are also very fragile, we must be very careful. Attention to every sign of fatigue especially in an arthritic dog. If a dog like walking, it is better to make several small walk during the day compare to a very long one.

Always good to do warm-up exercises before training and also cool down exercises at the end of your training.

What the type of exercise can you do with your dog? Walking, hiking, jogging, catch a ball, agility, obedience, rhythmic dance, flyball,  canicross, bike-joring, swimming, homemade stuff like playing hide and seek etc.     One should always keep an eye on the temperature when we train with a dog, you have to be very careful when it is very hot and humid. Because the dog has trouble with his body thermoregulation in hot, humid weather. The dog is panting to cool down his brain (the dog does not sweat, it transpires somewhat through his paw pads). You have to pay attention to hyperthermia.

Dogs with flat nose (brachycephalic) also have great difficulty with the heat and humidity. Some have difficulty breathing. So be careful on the amount of exercise of those dogs.

Dogs who constantly live in air-conditioned places also have trouble with the heat.

During winter, you must also be careful when exercising with your dog. Ice is very dangerous for you and your dog, be careful so you and your dog don’t slip. Salt and calcium can be hard on your dog's paws, wipe your dog’s paw when coming back at home or have your dog wear boots. Snow buildup between the dogs pads may make your dog limp, remove excess snow from time to time. It is also very important to be aware of frostbite and hypothermia, learn about the symptoms. Use boots and coat when necessary. And yes dogs can wear boots and coats, it is not silly. Mushers use them too.

When should you feed your dog before and after fitness?

It is usually ideal not to do exercise at least 3 hours after a meal. But be careful because some dogs have a slower digestion rate than others. So the timing could be longer than 3 hours.

It would be ideal to not feed the dog at least 1 hour after exercise. (You are the best person that knows your dog.) You are able to know if one hour is sufficient.

Some breed are predispose to bloat. This is a serious problem, a problem that can be incidentally fatal. Do not forget that every dog ​​is different. You have an anxious dog, one more reason to pay attention to bloat. You feed once a day? Do you think many small meals could be better instead? You will go to a very stressful place with your dog, would it be better not to give him his meal before this event? Give him a few treat instead.

Your dog will need water during and after exercise. Limit the amount of water ingested during exercise, some dogs do not know when to stop. Do not withhold water, but keep an eye on the amount consume. At the end of the training, limit the amount of water, give water in small amounts several times instead. Once the dog is rested you can leave water permanently or as you usually do.

Important!! For the human and for the dog. The human should be seen by a doctor prior starting an exercise program, ask him if the program will be appropriate for you. Same thing with your dog. You should see the vet about the new exercise program that you will be starting with your dog to know if it will be appropriate.

Christianne Tremblay

The information which will be provided to you by Christianne Tremblay replaces under no circumstances the expertise of your veterinary surgeon. This Internet site and Christianne Tremblay and consultations coming from this site must not be used instead of advice, or diagnostic, or treatments of a veterinary surgeon, but rather as a supplementary service to ameliorate and support health, nutrition, physical conditioning and quality of life of your dog. Please, always consult your veterinary surgeon before undertaking, changing or ending treatments or stop the medication of your dog. Christianne Tremblay is not veterinary.

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