So much of our attention and focus day to day is taken up by our children, family, work and household responsibilities that there is little time left to spend with our precious fur children who give us so much unconditionally, writes NSM Mimi Fong from Both Ends of the Lead.
When was the last time you took your dog for a walk or spent quality bonding time with them? The recurring feelings of guilt that we should be doing more to take better care of them or devoting more time to them are ever-present.
With the colder months upon us, it can be harder for us to stay motivated to be active and get enough regular exercise ourselves. And this can have a knock-on effect on our pooches, too. If we are not getting out and going for our regular walk or run, then chances are our pooches aren’t getting the exercise they crave either.
Regular exercise plays a crucial role in our dog’s wellbeing, both physically and mentally. If our dogs do not get enough exercise, it can not only affect their waistlines but their behaviour, too. Dogs that do not get enough stimulation are often prone to behaviour that can, over time, become problematic.
Physically, dogs that are overweight are more likely to suffer with joint issues and sore muscles, and there is a greater risk of health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, digestive disorders and, heartbreakingly, a decrease in the quality and duration of their lives.
The good news is that if you are one of those dog owners who is time poor (and, let’s face it, who isn’t nowadays?!) or finds it hard to exercise your dog in the cold weather, then there are exercises you can do in the warmth of your own home to help keep your pooch strong and mobile over the winter months. You can make the sessions fun and think of them as a personal training program for your pooch. It’s a great way to keep them strong and stimulated and you get to enjoy some bonding time with your four-legged best friend. Try these.
1. Sit to stand
Stand in front of your dog, using treats if necessary to encourage them, and ask them to sit and then stand and take a step backwards.
The benefits: This sequence is similar to performing squats and is a great way to strengthen your dog’s muscles in their hindquarters.
2. Weight shifting
With your dog standing, gently place both your hands either side of their hips and, with relaxed hands, gently rock them side to side. It’s important to not rock them too far, but just enough for their opposite leg to accept a little more weight, without knocking them off balance.
The benefits: This is a great exercise for improving your dog’s balance and body awareness, while strengthening the muscle in their hindquarters.
3. Walking at different speeds
You can try this at home by placing a few soft cushions on the floor and encouraging your dog to walk across them at very slow speeds and then at their normal speed. For variety, you can occasionally get your dog to sit and stand as they travel across the cushions. Do not be surprised if you see signs that your dog is getting tired after a few repetitions.
The benefits: Encouraging your dog to vary the speed they walk at is a great way to challenge their muscles, balance and movement patterns.
With all of these exercises, it is important to only do as many repetitions as your dog is comfortable to do, and to stop immediately if they appear uncomfortable.
At the end of their work-out, stretching and some gentle massage can be a great way to keep your dog healthy and moving well.
So there you have it! Some simple exercises you can perform at home to help keep your fur child strong, stimulated and healthy this winter.
Special offer for North Shore Mums!
The first five North Shore Mums who sign up for a personal training program for your pooch at Both Ends of the Lead will receive a 20% discount (a one-hour session/consultation is usually $100). A unique wellbeing program will be specifically tailored for your pooch, consisting of a blend of exercises, stretches and massage techniques to help you do the best for your dog this winter. Call Mimi on 0412 911 099 or email.
How do you exercise your dog during the winter months? Share your tips in the comments section below.
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