Fitness for Dogs and Owners is real : introducing Wag and Tone!
One of the greatest things about being a dog owner is spending time with our dogs and finding activities we can do together, with walks with our dogs and being out together being something we can do freely and which also helps with our joint fitness. Did you know that there are additional dog activities that also help towards a healthy lifestyle such as dog sports.
A relatively unheard of dog activity is Wag and Tone: Fitness for dogs where the owners join in as well so we get to work together on the exercises!! Wag and Tone can be tailored to suit various fitness levels for both the dog and the handler which means it can be suitable for younger dogs, older dogs, owners with physical difficulties etc. I myself have M.E. And Fibromyalgia which makes typical exercising incredibly difficult due to pain and fatigue but doing the Wag and Tone I am able to reduce my difficulty levels compared to what my dogs are doing so that I don’t need to lift my arms up high or lunge too low!!
Wag and Tone was created by trainers Karen Laker and Sue Holstead along with fitness coach Ruth MacGill several years ago and includes warm up exercises, fitness and cool down. Equipment used is mostly items found in the home or can be replicated quite easily and can be run as classes or 121 equally well. I started practising Wag and Tone exercises around 2015 with my own Norwich Terriers, Cassie age 15, Taylor age 11 and Merlin who was 3 at the time and quickly found its a lot of fun to do as well as having the added benefits of helping with fitness for us all! I was able to adjust exercises if needed for Cassie although she was able to do most things no problem.
I’ve then provide numerous Wag and Tone training sessions at my own Dog Training venue, Dog Training for Essex & Suffolk, as well as via our Facebook pages as online progression and it has attracted owners and dogs of varied ages and abilities to give it a try! Each session we have several warm up exercises to prepare dogs and owners for the exercise. As we have people who have attended multiple Wag and Tone sessions with us we try and change the warm up exercises so that everyone gets to try something new plus we can include warm up exercises from previous sessions as well and people returning get to practise and progress.
For the main exercise components there are a large variety to choose from so running regular classes is not repetitive and there are various levels of difficulty so dogs and owners can progress. Some of the main equipment used includes an Aerobic Step, Small Cones and Yoga Balls plus we also make use of yoga mats and regular chairs! The way owners join in with our dogs varies: sometimes we are doing the same movement as our dogs such as a step up and back off again, while other times we are sitting on a yoga ball working on posture and strength while our dog does something like paw lifts or neck stretches. Having the variety of exercises and levels means dogs who are not their ideal weight and either need to loose weight or gain some can work on the exercises that will help them the most and the weight loss or gain can be gradual and safe. Dogs working on maintenance or coming for a fun training class with have their exercises adjusted so they aren’t loosing or gaining weight!
So why consider Wag and Tone with your dog? It’s fun, can be done at home easily without needing specialist equipment, is adaptable for different dogs needs as well as different owners needs, can be done with friends and their dogs as easily as doing on your own, and there is a DVD available by the original creators so you can work on the exercises at home if you cannot find a class to attend near you!!
Exercises are so easy to work on anywhere that we have done Wag and Tone demos at dog shows to show people how it all works and run Have A Go training rings so dogs and owners can try some exercises. It’s incredibly user friendly!
Look up Wag and Tone on Youtube for some examples of the exercises and to see what is available near you in the form of classes, workshops or private training. There’s even online small courses starting in 2020 that will be linked to sessions I’ve run alongside in person workshops! If you’re interested in doing more you can look us up on Facebook as well as our Canine fitness Group “K9 Conditioning with Joe Nutkins” plus if you are looking for fitness work for your dogs where you help but don’t join in there are numerous programmes for dogs to work on strengthening, body awareness, confidence, Senior dog help etc too.
Joe Nutkins, CPCFT, CSDT Dip.DTBC
Certified Professional Canine Fitness Trainer
Accredited Pet Dog Trainer with the Kennel Club
Certified Trick Dog Trainer
Accredited Canine Hoopers UK Instructor
Wag It Games Instructor Level 1