Getting your dog fit and conditioned.

Everyone has their own way of doing things and there are many ways to exercise your dog in order to get him/her in tip-top condition.

As with humans we would choose exercises which match our goals, for example we wouldn’t want to gain too much weight and put on masses of muscle if our chosen sport was long distance running. Likewise with your dog, choose exercises which match your goals and feed him accordingly with a high quality diet.

Below I have listed a number of popular and effective activities used for conditioning your dog. I have listed 4 key aspects (below) and rated each aspect out of 10 for each exercise in an attempt to keep this simple yet informative.

  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Muscular Development
  • Muscular Endurance
  • Explosiveness (Fast twitch muscle fibers)

Exercises

The rating I have give each key aspect is my personal opinion and results/effectiveness would vary for some of the exercises based on the length of time you exercise your dog. Take a common sense approach and take this as a rough guide.

Slatmill

Rating

  • Cardiovascular Health [10/10]
  • Muscular Development [5/10]
  • Muscular Endurance [10/10]
  • Explosiveness (Fast twitch muscle fibers) [7/10]

Weight Pull

Rating

  • Cardiovascular Health [7/10]
  • Muscular Development [10/10]
  • Muscular Endurance [7/10]
  • Explosiveness (Fast twitch muscle fibers) [5/10]

A-Frame

Rating

  • Cardiovascular Health [7/10]
  • Muscular Development [7/10]
  • Muscular Endurance [7/10]
  • Explosiveness (Fast twitch muscle fibers) [8/10]

Resistance Parachute

Rating

  • Cardiovascular Health [9/10]
  • Muscular Development [6/10]
  • Muscular Endurance [9/10]
  • Explosiveness (Fast twitch muscle fibers) [7/10]

Spring Pole

Rating

  • Cardiovascular Health [3/10]
  • Muscular Development [6/10]
  • Muscular Endurance [7/10]
  • Explosiveness (Fast twitch muscle fibers) [6/10]

Flirt Pole

Rating

  • Cardiovascular Health [7/10]
  • Muscular Development [6/10]
  • Muscular Endurance [7/10*]
  • Explosiveness (Fast twitch muscle fibers) [7/10]

Hill Runs

Rating

  • Cardiovascular Health [8/10]
  • Muscular Development [7/10]
  • Muscular Endurance [7/10]
  • Explosiveness (Fast twitch muscle fibers) [7/10]

Swimming

Rating

  • Cardiovascular Health [8/10]
  • Muscular Development [6/10]
  • Muscular Endurance [10/8]
  • Explosiveness (Fast twitch muscle fibers) [8/10]

Putting it together

Looking at the above exercises, they will all to some degree promote endurance, cardiovascular health, explosiveness and muscular development in various degrees with a lot of crossover, but as you can imagine the higher resistance exercises such as weight pulling would promote more muscle growth than swimming and so on. It is up to you to put together a balanced exercise routine.

Weekly routine example

As with humans, we can put together a weekly workout routine for our dog. the importance of rest cannot be stressed enough, as with humans we must rest and give our body a chance to repair itself as this is when it grows so ensure adequate rest is built into your routine. See below for a sample weekly routine:

Monday– Hill runs up and down
– Spring pole
Tuesday– Flirt pole
– Weight pull
Wednesday– Rest/light activity
Thursday– Slatmill
– A-Frame
Friday– Spring pole
– Swimming
Saturday– Rest/light activity
Sunday– Rest/Light activity

Alternatively you could mix it up and do 2 days on and 2 days off. ultimately each dog is different so it would be worth getting to know your individual dog, keeping an eye on his condition and weight as you go and tweaking your routine and diet accordingly.

Also make sure to manage the length of your workouts based on how tired and fatigued your dog becomes and don’t work him to complete exhaustion. your dog should see the exercises as fun, not a tedious chore forced upon him.

Nutrition

All the exercise in the world is not going to help you reach your goals if you do not adequately fuel your dog with the optimum nutrition. There’s also many supplements on the market which aid with muscle growth and repair.

Below is a short guide to fuelling your dog with the optimum nutrition

Feeding RAW

I would always recommend a raw diet, there are many resources online to help you learn about feeding your dog a raw diet, here is a bit of information regarding raw diets:

Prey Model Raw Diet

The Prey Model Raw (PMR) diet is designed to provide dogs with a homemade diet that replicates the diet of a wild canine without requiring the pet to hunt and kill wild prey while eliminating all processed foods and grains. A complete PMR diet for dogs consists of 80% muscle meat, 10% raw edible bone, 5% liver, and 5% other secreting organ (Kidney, spleen, pancreas).

BARF Diet

BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet) is an alternative raw diet designed to provide dogs with a modified homemade diet that consists of raw meat and bones, as well as vegetables and fruit while eliminating all processed foods and grains. A complete BARF diet for dogs consists of 70% muscle meat, 10% raw edible bone, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ, and 10% vegetables and fruit.

Quality Dry Food supplemented with Raw food

If for whatever reason you are unable to feed your dog a raw diet, make sure to give him a quality kibble and supplement with raw food now and then, which is better than nothing.

Choose a premium brand with a high protein content free of grains and a good nutrient profile. I wont suggest any brands here as a simple google search for the best dry dog foods should suffice.

Supplements

There are many supplements on the market which aid in muscle repair, muscle growth and post workout recovery as well as joint care. I will not promote any particular brand here as a simple google search will give you all the information you need.

How much to feed

I, as with many others like to take a common sense approach here and simply go by eye (how the dog looks), if my dog looks a little thin I simply up his food and vice versa.

Summing it up

Conditioning your dog needn’t be rocket science, simply choose your goals and select your exercises accordingly and ensure your dog gets plenty of rest and adequate nutrition. I’ve seen some dogs which are lean and in great shape which simply have an hours walk/run each day. Genetics play a part as does Nutrition. As with humans Nutrition is just as important, if not more so than the actual exercise.

Have fun