Getting Fit This January
Dreary, cloudy, damp days, with the Christmas glitter behind us and all those New Year resolutions just about hanging in there is the classic time for starting the next fitness regime. So let’s get launched into 2018, eat healthy food and get you and your dogs fit, celebrating that the longer days are returning. I can already just about see on my morning walk with Tali rather than guessing where the path is and hoping it hasn’t moved!
Before you get the tracksuit on and start taking your dog jogging, it is a good thing to take stock and identify not only your needs but those of your canine companion. They spend their lives going along with our requirements and you can actually see them rolling their eyes with exasperation when the human health kick begins! Many of our dog companions will do exactly what we ask of them no matter if it is in their best interests or not. They can be the ultimate pleasers (some of you I can already hear are disputing that!). Young and old, short or long legged, thin or fat; if you say ‘come on let’s go running’ they may be totally up for it and quietly pay later. Many dogs will keep going until you say stop, especially young dogs, and overdoing exercise is as big an issue as not having enough. Do remember that if you have a burst of getting fit and increased exercise in January and it fades, you will have produced a very fit dog who can become very frustrated indeed if it all fades away in February!
Young Dogs (under a year)
Young animals (under a year of age), where the skeleton is still developing should not be over exercised, in particular with running (either jogging or alongside bikes) or climbing. This type of in-line pounding
can put significant strain on young joints and bones even producing stress fractures particularly in larger breeds. The same goes for using Frisbee’s or excessive ball games where the dogs launch and stop abruptly in a repetitive pattern. Young animals tumble and roll in their play, changing directions and angles frequently with short spurts of running and then crash and sleep. This helps them to develop strong robust joints. So breaking up exercise for young animals and giving moderate walks only with periods of play and training is much better for overall development. Remember that you will need to be the one to say STOP in most cases; it is your responsibility.
At the other end of the spectrum, our old dogs may well have significant wear and tear changes in their skeletons (arthritis) and again will often try and please us and do the exercise that we ask them to do but later when they have rested their joints can be very stiff and painful. These animals can be often be helped with supplementation, dietary changes (try Natural Instinct’s Natural Senior recipe) and where necessary pain relief and you should seek help from your veterinary surgeon to help support your dog at this stage of life, however, with exercise you can help a lot by changing the exercise pattern to shorter walks (20 - 30 minutes at a time) two to three times a day and again avoid excessive stop/start activities like Frisbee and ball launchers, switching more to rolling ball games and scent work activities to keep their minds active. Even an old arthritic dog can maintain fitness with a sensible moderate exercise regime and as with humans, exercising is vital even with damaged joints to maintain the muscle and ligament support.
Do pay attention to the length of your dog’s legs and the type of environment that you exercise in. I watched a gorgeous Pekingese last week struggling to get through some rough grassland as her owner strode off ahead. For this little short legged dog, with a long flowing coat, 9 inch tufted wet grass and herbage was like traversing the Amazon Rainforest! It is very easy to assume that they see and feel what we do, by and large what they do is to adapt to our needs but sometimes at quite considerable cost!
Last but not least there are the dogs that look at us and say ‘you go – I will stay here’. Every dog will have something that will interest them and it is our job to find it, particularly for the lazy dogs. Try out different environments and consider doing some hide and seek treats in a small area initially for the laziest of folk. Using some of Natural Instinct’s delicious treats will be very tempting for them so why not try a sprinkle of Beef Jerky or a scatter of Organic Chicken Hearts to entice your furry friends. For some dogs it is the pounding walks that they simply hate, or a past event on a walk has frightened them so that walks become a negative event, so even starting out by sitting with your dog in a different safe environment asking nothing of them at all for 20 minutes, can be enough to start them moving again and wanting to come with you.
We all need to get out in the daylight and move our bodies, breathing the fresh air – our companions will love our new invigorated selves – this year the resolution is to keep it up and avoid disappointing our furry friends!
New Year, new diet…
To start your pets on a new healthier diet for 2018 why not try Natural Instinct – a diet full of wholesome and delicious meals. Within the product ranges, there is a wide choice to suit all tastes and dietary requirements. All recipes are made using only the best human grade, DEFRA approved 100% British meat, poultry and fish with the freshest vegetables and fruit. My dog, Tali, thrives on it!
Have a look at our range of healthy, wholesome products here.