Did you know that April is Canine Fitness month? It's a great time to embrace some springtime training with Man's Best Friend. Though honestly, both canines and humans can enjoy activities together year round!
The exercises you choose for your dog should both match the dog’s level of fitness and support the movements and demands that your dog places on his body. You also must consider that dogs don’t always do what we want, and their movements can change in a split second due to a variety of factors.
Humans should assess the amount of exercise a pet can tolerate or even enjoy, especially in young dogs. Can a puppy make it a ½ mile or a mile hike? There is no firm rule. Many factors could come into play such as vaccine status, age, and breed. As rule of thumb, a puppy can walk five minutes for every month of age starting at eight weeks. Therefore, a two-month-old-puppy can walk about 10 minutes. Of course, these are general guidelines. It is always advisable to check with your vet regarding your puppy’s specific needs.
Flexibility is an important component of any fitness training. It plays a major role in overall health, fitness, and function. But just like in human fitness, flexibility is often overlooked in our dog’s fitness program. Walking can offer numerous health benefits to people and canines of all ages and fitness levels. It may also help prevent certain diseases and even prolong your lives.
Just like in humans, exercise benefits our pups in so many healthy ways – from their hearts to their brains, and if we join them, we can strengthen the bond between canine and human. If you’re concerned about your dog’s health, ask yourself:
• How many times do you walk your dog in each week? Perhaps determine whether your pooch (or even you), could stand to pound the pavement a little more.
• How often do you play with your pet in the yard or park to throw a ball, Frisbee or rope etc? Perhaps more fresh air would do you both some good?
• How many meals a day does your dog have? Three like most of us humans? Plus, how many dog treats or (human snacks) are we consuming? What is the quality of the food we both are we eating? Many pups eat twice a day, plus lots of treats. Many humans find snacking in the evening after dinner quite enjoyable. As we all know too well, we are what we eat.
• Walking is free to do and easy to fit into your daily routine. All you need to start walking is a sturdy pair of walking shoes. Grab the leash and the canine in your life. If you don’t have a canine, perhaps volunteer at a local shelter to walk the dogs. You will make some great friends, really quick!
The bottom line? Exercise is important for both humans and our canine friends but respecting your individual dog’s limits is best. Accidents and injuries can happen at any time to pups (and to the most well-intentioned pet parent).
Resources: • Puppytraining.com • FitPAWS • Canine Health and Fitness • AARP - Great Reasons to Walk More