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Keep Fido Fit As He Ages
Keeping your dog fit as he ages is an important part of being a pet owner. It’s easy to exercise your dog when he’s a spry, peppy pup — in fact, you probably couldn’t have gotten him to slow down if you tried! But as dogs age, just like with people, it can become more difficult to motivate your dog to stay active. Dogs have days they would rather stay on the couch than walk around the block, too. So what can you do to prevent your older dog from becoming a total couch potato? Try these ideas!
Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors. Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.
When you start a new exercise routine, do you feel better when you go all in or when you ease into it? The goal isn’t to work your dog’s muscles so hard that he’s sore the next day. He doesn’t appreciate the reminder that he’s had a full-body workout like you might. Plan to start slow and ease into activity with your dog if it’s been a while since he’s been active. Instead of heading out on a five-mile trek, try a 15 –minute walk before breakfast and after dinner each day.
Consistency is key for dogs just like it is for humans. To see benefits and keep joints nice and nimble, you’ve got to exercise your dog regularly. This is especially important if your dog is overweight and you’re actively trying to help him lose a few pounds.
Controlling Your Dog’s Weight
The more weight your dog has on him, the more pressure there is on aching joints. Losing a few pounds (depending on your dog’s size) can make a world of difference in how active your dog prefers to be. I’ve seen older dogs who lost 10 pounds and reverted to many puppyish behaviors. Talk to your vet about your dog’s ideal weight, and keep that number in mind when giving treats and planning how much activity is needed.
Try New Activities
Leash walking in your neighborhood isn’t the only activity your older dog can partake in. Varying your routine and taking your dog to different places keeps him interested and mentally engaged. Here are a few ideas to spice up your activities and keep your dogs’ (and your own) interest:
Explore Supplements or Medications
If your older dog is showing signs of joint stiffness or pain when rising, he may be suffering from arthritis. There are wonderful treatment options available to keep your dog active and comfortable. Talk to your vet about medications and supplements that can reduce your dog’s pain and increase his quality of life.
Head of the Class Dog Training loves working with dogs of all ages. Our Phy Ed for Fido and trick classes such as Dog Ball/Treibball, or Barkour, or Pooches with Puzzles are perfect opportunities for you to have fun with your older dog. Call us today for more information and scheduling.