Puppy Exercises - Preparing Pix Part 2
It’s time for part two of Pix’s journey from puppyhood to (hopefully) stardom. And the best bit is this part comes with adorable puppy videos.
There are three fitness games that I start doing with a puppy as soon as they get home. We are going to run through those and why I do them. I do these on top of the usual training we start straight away, such as recalls, crate, and potty training.
Game 1 - The Obstacle Course
The Obstacle Course is simply getting your puppy to walk over, through, around stuff. This is a proprioception game that helps Pix learn where her feet are and how they work. Since she is constantly growing this changes from day to day. We want to play this game regularly.
Here is a video of ‘one we prepared earlier’. While this is a staged game and it is fun to set up courses for your puppy to tackle, we also do plenty of this game wherever we happen to be. It might be walk along the concrete curb; going around the pole; duck under a seat; walking on the couch; or even pouncing on a toy. There are an endless number to things you can use here when setting up your own courses.
Changes in surface are also important for them to experience. To start out, make sure they get to experience all the surfaces in your home and backyard (that includes walking on the bed) and when you take your puppy out, rather than sticking to the path, cut across the grass, or wander through some dirt of gravel or whatever other interesting surfaces are around.
Game 2 - Puppy Sit-ups
Puppy Sit-ups are all about building core strength. I often say that core strength is never a bad thing. Core strength gives your puppy a strong frame to support their movement and helps both prevent injury and improve movement.
Puppy sit-ups are easy. Flip your puppy on their back and give them a belly rub. Then using a treat or toy, lure the puppy to do little sit-ups to the right and left. In Pix’s case, cardboard is simply the best thing in the world at the moment.
It is important not to overdo it , just 3 or 4 ‘reps’ on each side once or twice a day is plenty at this age. And make sure to keep it fun. This is an opportunity for a fun game with your puppy that gives them a work out and also gets them used to being handled and moved around by you.
Game 3 - Dig to China
Digging is an excellent workout for any dog, but I especially like it for puppies while they are young. They get to go at their own pace and intensity, so it self regulates. Digging is another exercise that builds core strength, as well as general fitness.
Additionally, digging is a great strengthening workout for the front limbs. Helping strengthen the front ankle through to the carpus.
At the moment pix is a rear wheel drive puppy. This means she powers along using her back legs for most of her power. Digging strengthens the front legs to ensure they are balanced with the muscles on her back legs.
This means as she grows and becomes more confident she will swap to all wheel drive, pulling with her front legs, pushing with her back. In balance and synch for extreme zoomies.
We were lucky, as Pix is a natural digger. If you're puppy doesn’t naturally dig, then there are a number of ways you can encourage them to. Izzy is the lucky puppy who will get to show you in a few weeks how this is done.
Game 4 - Free Play
Calling it a game is kinda cheating, I know, but I really want to emphasise the importance of letting your puppy just be a puppy and play. Pix gets time doing zoomies with Izzy, playing mirror games with Franky and wrestling with Fable. She also likes to play tug, fetch, and chasies with her humans.
All this play is important because it also encourages proprioception and helps Pix learn about how a Pix works. No matter how good your training program is, you will never manage to replicate all the movements that Pix has to make when interacting and playing all of these games.
We always supervise Pix while she plays to make sure that it doesn’t get too rough, but otherwise, she is free to romp with the other puppies and enjoy being a puppy.
You can do these exercises for he first month you have your new pup. After that you will want to add in a few more things, which will be the topic of our next article.