Is your canine getting enough cardio?
The topic of dog fitness is a top concern for any responsible pet parent, since the health and fitness of our dogs has a direct impact on both their quality of life and their longevity.
Everyone wants their best buddy to live a long and healthy life— and, as with human fitness, diet and exercise are key.
“Much like people, dogs need regular exercise to feel their best,” say the experts at the American Kennel Club (AKC). In terms of how much exercise is the right amount, “As with people, the answer varies from dog to dog and is dependent on age, health and breed.”
Note: The AKC and other canine health advocates urge pet parents to consult their veterinarian for insights into the most appropriate breed-specific exercise routines.
Putting the 'fun' in dog fitness fundamentals
Fortunately, one of the most fundamental canine fitness exercises is one that every pet parent is quite familiar with. You guessed it: We’re talking about that low-impact, high-enjoyment workout called “walking the dog.”
Many of your dog’s other favorite activities also contribute to a healthy canine fitness regimen. These include running, hiking, swimming, and playful activities such as romping, chasing, zooming, wrestling, tugging, fetching, and hide-and-seek.
The goal should be to get a healthy amount of exercise every day. And since achieving fitness goals is easier when you’re enjoying the “workout,” the most effective dog fitness activities tend to be those in which you are both having fun.
Canine calisthenics and other fitness basics
High five! Simple exercises such as teaching your dog to do “high fives” or to “shake hands” can be a fun part of his or her fitness program. Doing several “reps” of high fives helps develop strong shoulders and upper arms, while strengthening both abduction and adduction muscles, according to FitPAWS.
Everyday activities such as walking and running contribute to a healthy circulatory and respiratory system, helping to build stamina and endurance.
Meanwhile, stretching and stability exercises will help keep your dog limber, flexible and balanced. The AKC offers a helpful list “Easy Exercises for Canine Conditioning,” with training tips for such activities as puppy push-ups, figure eights, and stretching and balancing exercises.
Pet fitness advocates also emphasize the important role that training and treats play in Fido’s health, with Preventative Vet suggesting that treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories.
Dog fitness toys, tools and tech accessories
Tennis balls. Frisbees. Soft or squeaky toys to tug on. These and other playthings engage your dog’s playful side while also giving them a tail-wagging workout.
However, you won’t need to dig too deeply to discover that the dog fitness industry (yes, four-legged fitness is a bustling business) offers a wide range of accessories ranging from doggie treadmills and interactive ball launchers to outdoor zoomie companions. There are even fitness robots that can be programmed to zip around the house and dispense treats for a job well done.
A more recent high-tech entry into the canine fitness landscape is our very own Wagz® Freedom Smart Dog Collar™—a tool that puts your pup’s health information at your fingertips via the Wagz App. In addition to allowing you to easily create virtual geofences to help keep your dog safe while he plays, the collar features an Activity and Wellness Tracker.
The tracker uses sleep time, exercise, companion time, and breed to generate a breed-specific Health & Happiness Score. The collar’s Fitness Mapping can also track the route, distance, and duration of all your adventures. These tools help eliminate the worries and guesswork around whether your pup is getting enough exercise.
From the many fitness basics and fundamentals to the more advanced activities and pet-tech accessories, there are certainly a lot of options out there for pet parents eager to keep their dogs active.