We might not be able to get out walking, running and canicrossing together due to the restrictions from the lockdown but there are still plenty of exercises or tricks that you can do at home that will help your dog to maintain a good standard of strength, flexibility and fitness. If you are taking part in Canicross or any kind of Dog sport for that matter you need to start thinking of your dog as an Athlete and therefore they need to be kept fit, strong and healthy.
All of the below exercises are simple ones that you can do at home, not only are they fun for your dog but they serve a purpose, you could even get other members of the family involved in teaching your dogs the activities too.
- Shake a Paw – This trick is actually a great way to stretch their front shoulders, especially if you don’t catch their paw when they go to give you your paw. You can make this exercise even tougher by teaching them to shake a paw from standing rather than sitting as this will require them to think about balancing on their other three legs and distribute their weight evenly. Make sure to do each side evenly to keep your dog balances.
- Crawl along the floor – Get then to lie down and then encourage them to crawl along the floor by using a treat as a lure. Just a short distance is enough. Again this is great mobility, core and strength work for them.
- Spin – Us a treat to lure them to spin in a circular motion. Be sure to do it both clockwise and anticlockwise to keep them well balanced.
- Figure of 8 between your legs – plant your feet quite far apart, use a treat to lure them between your legs in a Figure of 8 pattern. The bigger the dog the more space they will need, again this is great for flexibility
- Digging – Digging is great exercise for your dog, next time you are at the beach or somewhere suitable to dig, encourage them to dig. If you can then film them using slow motion on your phone and when you watch it back you’ll see just how many muscles are engaged. It’s a great full body exercise for them. Digging is also a very natural behaviour for dogs and it can be incredibly rewarding and a great boredom buster for them.
- Tug of War – Play with your dog, it’s brilliant exercise for your dog and fun for you both. Again if you can film them using slow motion you’ll really see how much effort your dog puts into a game of tug. Just make sure you let your dog win at Tug of War (you wouldn’t want to play a game if you never stand a chance of winning and neither will your dog), it’s a great confidence booster for them and will NOT encourage them to be dominant. When playing try to ensure you hold the toy level with their shoulders and don’t be too ferocious with yanking the toy around. And if they don’t want to play that’s fine too – don’t try to make them, waving a toy around in front of their face can actually be quite intimidating and off putting for them.
- Swimming – Is a great full body exercise for dogs. Even paddling is brilliant exercise. Make sure it is safe to do so before letting them swim and be careful that your dog doesn’t ingest too much water.
- Free running – You run and your dog runs off lead, this is great exercise for both you and your dog and really enjoyable too.
- Utilise your surroundings for Doggy Parkour – Come across a low wall/ tree stump/rock on your walk? Get your dog to stand on it with its front legs, You may need to use a treat to lure your dog on the obstacle, use the treat to encourage them to hold this position for a few seconds, but this is a nice way to stretch your dog and actually encourages your dog to build strength in their back legs. Standing on different surfaces is also a good confidence booster for dogs too.
For the first 4 exercises I would suggest just working towards doing 10 repetitions of each (make sure you work both sides of your dog’s body) for the others; you know your dog’s fitness levels and abilities better than anyone so use your common sense with the duration of these exercises, but please don’t do too much with your dog too soon.
If you have any questions about any of the exercises then please get in contact with us and we will do our best to answer them. We are going to be creating Youtube Channel so will aim to add some of this content to it.