Beat the heat!

It’s hot out there!

There are days I just don’t want to do a thing, let alone exercise because it’s so hot out! However, I’m pretty sure that my canine counterparts don’t really care about the “Dog Days of Summer”. Their needs and wants don’t change just because it is hot.
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I can make sure my dogs are still getting the exercise they need without risking dehydration or heat stroke, a very scary, very serious problem that faces all dogs in the warmer months.

Dogs don’t have the ability to sweat like we do and when they are overheated they can not always fully cool down by panting. Some breeds are more susceptible to overheating or do not tolerate the heat as well as other breeds can. Signs of overheating include, but are not limited to:

  • excessive panting and drooling
  • a bright red tongue or gums
  • thick saliva
  • increased heart rate and body temperature
  • skin around the muzzle or neck doesn’t snap back when pinched
  • Glassy eyes or fearful expression
  • stumbling

So what can we do to keep our dogs active and fit, yet safe?  Some might suggest restricting exercise and while this may be an option for some, it is not for everyone. If you’re like me and train and compete in performance sports, then keeping your dog’s endurance up is imperative.  (I would also argue that ALL dogs need to  stay fit and trim whether they are performance dogs, seniors,  or “just a pet” -but that’s another topic for another day 😉

27450C6A-8400-4661-88C5-7D46BF9433D1One way many of us enjoy our time while conditioning our dogs is by walking with them. In the summer heat this can be dangerous so keep in mind the temperature outdoors. More importantly, consider the temperature of the pavement. With direct sun and no wind, although the thermometer might say 77 degrees outside, the pavement temperature may be 125 degrees! (data source James J. Bergens, MD contact burns from streets and highways, Journal of the American Medical Association; 214(11): 2025-2027.) Would you want to walk barefoot on that for long periods of time? While a dog’s pads seem thicker than the soles of our feet, they can still burn. Keep in mind that the temperatures may be cooler at night, but the pavement has soaked up the sun all day. Try walking in the cooler morning hours, or better yet, take them on a hike on a wooded path where it is shaded by trees or perhaps near a water source. Not all dogs like to wade in the water, but all dogs can enjoy walking by the cooler temps by the shoreline.BBBA52AD-E1C0-461A-BE60-5992EC12504B

If you’re hitting the road with your pal, always bring fresh water with you on your adventures.  If you’re romping around the yard at home, add some ice cubes  to their water bowl or consider a dash of low sodium broth to entice them to stay hydrated.

 

If staying indoors is more your speed, consider a doggy treadmill like Dogtread. The bed of the treadmill specifically made for canines allows them to fully extend and trot for longer periods of time than we can often sustain. Not in the budget? Try setting up cavelettis for a great cardiovascular workout for your pup.

Summer time is a great time of year to get outside and be active with our furry friends. Just remember, all they want to do is go, go, go! Know your dog when it comes to exercising them. Pay attention to signs of  Fatigue and how well they tolerate the heat.  Make wise choices when getting out there this summer! If you’d like additional information on any of the exercises options discussed here or to get a conditioning plan for your canine,Contact  me  🙂 

happy training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tips and Tricks

SirPrize recently passed his Novice and Intermediate Trick Dog Tests, and although I didn’t train these tricks specifically for these tests it got me thinking, many of the tricks he knows are because of the fitness training we do!

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Often times people who train with me will ask, ” Why do you want to know if “Rex” can nose touch or shake a paw?”

Simply because we can USE these tricks in our conditioning training! With a trick such as the nose touch, you can get your dog to shift his weight on his own without having to do it manually by applying pressure to his body. The same unassisted weight shifting also occurs when we ask the dog to perform “shake/paw” trick while on balance equipment. Not only that, but it gets your dog thinking more and a thinking dog is getting the added benefit of getting a mental workout and not just a physical one. In addition, the bond that comes with this training time grows stronger between the handler and the dog. Put all of this together and you get a happy, mentally stimulated, pooped pooch!

Along with these two tricks, you can increase the difficulty in the weight shifting exercise by teaching your dog to “wave” or “high five”. The added independent motion of the dog having to balance himself with greater instability will make this once-simple core exercise more advanced. Want to add more motion? Find your dog’s favorite ball or toy and teach them how to catch it. Catching is a skill in itself, but add it to a balance prop and the benefits are compounded. (Keep in mind this is an advanced skill. Your dog has to be strong enough to find his balance and hold it with the other ‘tricks’ before adding this to your routine.)

Can your dog turn a circle right and left on the flat? Doing it on a piece of balance equipment makes this an advanced exercise too. It takes core strength, body awareness and control.

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The list of tricks that can be used in some form or another goes on and on! Some can be used as part of a warm up routine, some can be used as an exercise in itself, and others make an exercise more advanced. Here are some additional examples:

  • Crawl
  • Leg weave
  • Rollover
  • Sit Pretty
  • Paws Up
  • Target
  • Back up
  • Jump

So while trick training to some may just be cute or a fun bonding experience with your dog I say, use what you’ve trained (or train some new tricks) and apply them to your fitness training routine to keep it interesting for you and your dog.

 

happy training