Archive OLDT :: Spring Into Action

With spring in the air, we're all ready for some fun in the sun -- dogs and humans alike! Here's how to turn your dog's exercise into a real canine work-out:

Some dogs are unabashed diggers. The dachshund is such a breed, bred to dig in search of rodents. Digging is actually a good source of exercise -- it's a great workout for the forelimbs. So, rather than trying to inhibit the behavior completely, it's better to reach a compromise by giving your pooch a designated digging area or sandbox in which to exercise this instinctive behavior. In order to attract the behavior to the designated area, dig a shallow hole and bury a ziplock baggy of treats. As he digs to reveal the baggy, open it up and produce a treat for him. As he progresses, plant the baggy slightly deeper in the dirt. You can use a heavier dirt medium or pack it more tightly for added challenge.
   You can also bury stuffed puzzle toys in the soil for his search and recovery. Make sure to supervise so that you can discourage your pup's digging in other parts of the lawn. For building a canine athlete, do this exercise three or four times a week!

Playing a hearty game of retrieve has always been great exercise. You can expand on its efficacy by throwing uphill to work your dog's hind limbs, and retrievals through water are a great full-body endurance workout.

Taking your dog for a walk is not necessarily beneficial if the walk is a slow saunter as he sniffs p-mail and leaves his own. In order to get cardiovascular benefit and build endurance, you want your dog to settle into a trot gait. Start your walk at a clip fast enough so that your dog needs to trot to keep up. After he's settled into this gate, you can often slow your own speed and he will continue on at a trot.

Canine Sports
Depending on your dog's own natural abilities, sports such as agility, flyball, tracking, and herding are great sources of exercise for dog and human alike. Training facilities such as St. Hubert's Dog Training Academy in Madison, NJ offer such classes.

A Word to the Wise
Remember that outdoor activity is still an essential component of any exercise regimen, giving your dog a change of scenery, which is mentally stimulating as well as burning physical energy. Consider your dog's athletic program with the same caution and care as you would your own. As with any exercise regimen, start gradually. And consult your vet about whether there are exercises you should avoid because of your dog's physical limitations.