In the last couple of years I have become more heavily involved in looking at my owns dogs conditioning and fitness, as my own mobility deteriorates I want to ensure my dogs continue to have strong bodies so they are pain free, can do the activities they enjoy and to help them do more!
What first alerted me to the fact my dogs might not be invincible was Cassie having difficulties jumping in our front door step, which is about a foot high, and then starting to not want to jump in the back door step, about 6/7 inches high.
I looked up how to strengthen dogs’ rear legs and core strength and started online Canine Conditioning classes through Fenzi (FDSA) and Debbie Gross and was hooked!! Within weeks Cassie was stronger, using her back legs better and jumping up both types of door step happily! All three of my dogs were enjoying the new challenges of these unusual training exercises and I wanted to learn more!!!
I’ve progressed to further Canine Conditioning and Canine X Training classes, Canine Massage and even a Canine Fitness Trainer programme which I started several months ago and will complete this year! My Cassie is able to learn and perform new tricks and old exercises and still do 2-3 hour walks (I allow her rests but really the rests are for me!), Taylor has a stronger core which in turn strengthens his back along with the laser treatment every couple of weeks for scapula tension, and Merlins body is muscley, strong and that of an athlete!!
The conditioning and understanding of recognising basic issues with dogs postures has helped me in training other dogs too; I understand better what a dog needs to work on to gain the strength for things like Sit Pretty, handstands and standing on back legs. I can see from how a dog stands or sits where there may be body weaknesses and can advise on how to change this to help their dog hold these positions more comfortably. I’ve been able to work with dogs with illnesses and conditions that have weakened the bodies but we have strengthened the body back up to support weak back legs, straight shoulders and outward pointing elbows, – my overall understanding of how dogs bodies work is entirely updated making me into a more synthetic trainer who can adjust a dogs training to include strengthens of awareness exercises to suit that dog best and help them and their owner achieve even more!
Its even helped me create my Senior Dogs Classes, which have been amazing to run and I’m very privileged to work with these super golden oldies! I’ve also created my Senior Dogs Progress Awards which are going well. My Wag and Tone classes have started well and I can help owners understand why we do the exercises and what we are working on plus have more specific conditioning classes planned!
I teach fun agility and my awareness of how the body grows and develops is even better now so I can explain in more detail why a puppy of 5 months old can’t take part in proper agility classes yet, and why a 12 month giant breed is not ready for off the ground jumps compared to a 14 month JRT! I’ve always known but now can explain what is happening in theirs dogs bodies and what complications can happen – learning about Canine Conditioning has helped me improve my skills as a dog owner and dog trainer immensely and I can’t recommend it enough!
We do our fitness and conditioning almost every day (on a flare up I can’t bend and lift dogs on and off equipment) and we vary our routine. I use dog specific equipment but give owners alternatives they will have at home like using dog beds, cushions and small steady boxes!
Awareness for our dogs health, fitness and wellbeing is growing and it’s fantastic – I am very enthusiastic about helping my customers with their dogs conditioning – All About Dogs Show, Suffolk, over Easter have asked me to be part of their Q&A section to help with Canine Conditioning and Senior Dogs fitness plus have been asked to run my training ring both days so I’ll be there to offer help with Tricks, Conditioning, Older Dogs work and more so come along and see me and my lovely supportive team of dog owners and team members!
My Senior Dogs Progress Awards are on Facebook in their own group and rosettes are being ordered currently with certificates already being sent out – Just look up DTES Senior Dogs Progress Awards!
Moral of this blog? Older dogs may sometimes need training, activities and challenges adapting a little to suit them but they still enjoy using their brains to learn new things and their bodies still have lots to give if you teach the body how to be strong! And dogs of all ages, abilities and size can benefit from a better understanding of how they perform activities and how to help the body work better overall.
Enjoy your dogs everyone and go spend some time with them this weekend!