This week’s challenge came around quickly. The idea is to see where you can fit in fitness with your dog in your daily activities. By taking a minute here and a minute there, you can have a positive effect on your health and that of your dog.
I had to think hard about this. My day is filled with homeschooling my children – checking maths, doing science experiments and going on excursions. I’m not sure I could find anything there that could improve Guinness’s fitness. If I’m not doing that, I’m writing for my clients, and that too isn’t very exercise – friendly.
It was very timely then to find an article written by a veterinarian about conditioning exercises for canine athletes. Could I incorporate Guinness into what I already do?
Now, before you read the rest of this post, you have to promise not to laugh…I’m not co-ordinated at the best of times but when trying to exercise with a dog, well…
I regularly do squats and lunges to improve my leg strength, and I do them at odd times, like when I’m waiting for the kettle to boil to make myself a latte, or waiting for the toast to pop. Let’s not discuss the calorie count of lattes, I prefer to look on the positive side – more lattes mean more lunges and squats. Here’s how I did them with my dog, using the suggested conditioning exercises in the article I read. There’s a reason I didn’t photograph this in my kitchen 🙂
Firstly, the squats. I sat Guinness beside me, as in the first picture, and as I lowered myself into a squat, I asked him to drop. As I straightened up again, I asked him to get back into a sit position. As you can see from the picture, a liver treat went a long way to helping Guinness get the idea. According to the article, the repeated dropping and sitting is good conditioning for the muscles of a dog’s forelimb.
I always find lunges harder, because I have a tendency to fall over. I got myself into position, with Guinness again sitting beside me. When I lunged forward, I moved the liver treat forward to lure him into a stand position. As I straightened up and moved backwards, I asked him to sit. This is supposed to condition a dog’s hindleg muscles.
I guess I can see the point to the exercises, and done by themselves, they may be quite useful. However, trying to get Guinness to sit, drop and stand neatly, while watching my own posture and position, wasn’t easy at all. It’s hard enough trying to stay straight when I lunge, and make sure my knee is straight, but even harder with a Kelpie who is dancing around me after a liver treat. So, if I were to do this, I’d do my lunges and squats first, and then work with Guinness separately. I can still do that when I make myself a latte – I’ll just have have extra to make time for my dog’s exercises 🙂
The other thing I do is stand on one leg on a rubber disc to improve my ankle strength, when I’m at the kitchen sink for example. I have recently seen pictures of dogs doing the same thing, so Guinness, look out – that’s next on your agenda 🙂