Busy Life, Fit Dog

It can be overwhelming to book a rehabilitation or conditioning consult. Particularly if you go on Facebook and see videos of people using great piles of equipment, dogs doing fancy movements on voice commands, and lengthy discussions on the different activities from people about the hours of activities they do with their pets every day. A lot of us have jobs and kids and friends and stuff going not that makes committing all that time to your dog’s rehab feel impossible.

Don’t let this fool you, you CAN buy stuff, you can do lots of training, and you can spend an hour conditioning your dog every day. But you don’t have to, with lots of dogs, you can still get awesome results in a lot less time.

With the exception of dogs with neurological problems, who need significant supportive care, rehabilitation and conditioning shouldn’t feel like it takes over your life. It should make you smile, it shouldn’t be frustrating for you and your dog and it should feel like it’s a sustainable commitment.

My household is full of geriatrics (sorry Abby, Safire and Bluey) in the double digits. At this age they either use it or loose it, and with temperatures being in the high 30’s to low 40’s (degrees celsius) there has been a lot of snoozing and laying under the air-conditioning this month and not a lot of going for walks or doing zoomies in the backyard. The modifications we have made to how they live their lives has kept them fit, while not taking more than a few minutes per day to achieve this result.

I rely a LOT on meal times. I do use bowls, but the bowls are not sitting on the ground allowing easy access to stand and eat. The trick is to put bowls in locations your dog has to work harder to eat. Most of the time this means that their bowl is up on a step or plastic box, getting the dogs to weight shift back onto their back legs and work their hamstrings and gluteals. Depending on the height we can also stretch the iliopsoas muscle at the same time!!

This is a video of Getti who is a mature Bearded Collie enjoying his fitness session with a treat and train. This is a handy machine that can be set to drop treats at regular intervals. His mum decided to up the difficulty by putting an unstable surface under his back feet since he found standing on the flat pretty easy.

Getti thinks he is getting free treats and is thrilled with his brand new exercise.


Thankyou Natalie Kirkwood for sharing Gettis joy with us and world wide with her video and photos

Instead of the bone you can use a dog bed or pillow, or if you have a tiny dog a, hot water bottle. For our dogs we tend to use the TotoFit Disc with Base or BisKit which have broad surface area and solid bases to prevent them tipping, while still being challenging. We swap these out with the K9 Kore Wedge pointing different directions to target different muscles.

This is a sustainable way of getting some exercise in for your dog every day of the week.

We also do treat scatters. There are lots of options here like throwing treats in the grass or a snuffle mat. One of my favourites is under furniture!! This leads to repeated play bows, crawling around under the bed and turning and leaning around the legs to get at the treats. Its a great work out and can hit the cardiovascular system as well. If you add in some shaggy carpet or a snuffle mat then your dog will also be getting releases of feel good hormones which will make them feel happier as well.

Here’s a few of our pups hunting amongst the grass for treats.

Cuddle time is another opportunity for strength training. Tickling tummies while standing on the lounge activates their core. Scratches that cause the bum dance to happen get your dog moving and having to balance and there’s NO food required so its excellent for dogs who trying to slim down.

Our last lazy fitness exercise is dropping treats behind our lounge. We have it pushed off the wall enough to allow dogs to walk down the gap, but not enough to turn around. Dropping a treat behind gets the dog to walk down, and then reverse back out for their next treat. Rinse and repeat.

The dogs all have an amount of food allocated to meal times, and other treats allocated to other fitness activities. The aim is that the treat container is empty by the end of the day. It means that anyone can grab a handful of snacks and toss them in an appropriate location to give your dogs mental and physical exercise that keeps them happy and STRONG.

Dr Jaime Jackson