The Basics of Fitness
Flexibility: This usually means joint movement, it's range and fluidity. Some flexibility has a lot to do with body composition however, the more excess weight a dog might have will reduce the range of motion.
Endurance: Endurance is usually measured by aerobic capacity. This means how long a dog can run or chase or do quick movement exercises. However, in the last decade, humans have been reminded that mental challenge is just as exhausting as aerobic exercise. So endurance covers more then just aerobics. Endurance is the amount of time vs effort in any activity.
Strength: Weight training is a form of exercise for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles which can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being.
Agility: Agility is the ability to change the body's direction quickly and efficiently. Agility requires a sense of balance, the knowledge of body parts and how they move, coordinating movements between the dog and its environment, speed, and strength.
Balance: This includes body awareness, environmental awareness and proprioception in order to maintain the natural positions of the canine body without dizziness, loss of equilibrium or injury.
Speed: Speed is a measure of how fast the dog moves in the activity being done. Speed is measured by how much time it takes to go from rest to the end of the activity. That activity could be as simple as a stand to a sit. To get speed, the dog needs to be able to hear the cue, understand the cue and the action the cue signals and instantly react upon hearing it.
Task-oriented activity: There are many tasks and groups of tasks that we can ask of our dogs. A sport, any sport, is just a specific set of tasks and movements that have the purpose of going from A to B.
There are five things that I feel are the keys to fitness with any dog, no matter what their role in your life is.
Engagement. Engagement basically means that your dog is actively involved in the activity you and s/he are doing together. Once the dog is actively participating, there is a point where the dog is actually pushing the handler. This intended outcome is what is desired during every interaction. Engagement cannot be achieved without a sound dog. Fitness is an important part of creating an engaged dog. Anything that is unsound will cause internal distractions and thus, no engagement.
Aerobic Activity. Some dogs love to run, others don't. Some dogs thrive on long straight walks and others need to stop at every tree and hydrant, chase a butterfly and roll in the grass. All of this for a dog, is aerobic activity. Anything that gets the dog moving, breathing, engaging with the environment and you can be considered aerobic. The heart pumps a bit harder, the lungs grab more air, the muscles work harder and endorphins abound.
Running. Jumping. Playing. Problem solving. Dogs live for this stuff!
Exercise—for both mind AND body—should be fun for you and your dog. Through unique activites like swimming, NoseWork, obedience, balance ball exercises and more, we'll help you keep the joy in exercise.
Join one of our many classes and learn a new skill or explore a dog sport. Discover the power of a therapy ball to build strong core muscles that decrease the risk of injury. No matter your dog's age or mobility level, we have a class to meet his physical and mental needs.
Just as with our Service Dog program, we will teach each student how to creatively exercise dogs so that it is fun, fullfilling, and useful. There is no boredom with these exercises, they can be done from your easy chair or with your running shoes on.
In addition, most of these exercises are also structured games that we use in our programs, so not only are you exercising your dog, you are also teaching!
Not every dog requires a significant solution like an orthosis or a cart. Based on our evaluation of your dog's environment and your veterinarian's diagnosis, we can recommend products and changes to the home that support more general mobility challenges.
For example, senior dogs with some form of degenerative joint changes will often experience difficulty rising from and walking on slippery tile floors common in the Desert Southwest. We offer a selection of boots and paw covers to meet the needs of even the most paw-averse dogs. As senior dog owners ourselves, we share tips and tricks to keep you dog moving safely within her home.
We also understand that being a care-giver to a senior, disabled or injured pet is a challenge. We offer equipment such as harnesses, lifts, diapers and others that make moving and exercising with you dog easier – and more fun – for you and your dog.
Senior Support is a complement to veterinary medicine, never a substitute. We will contact your veterinarian prior to your appointment to discuss your dog's condition.