The goal of canine fitness is to achieve, maintain and improve optimal physical states of wellbeing for our dogs. This in turn allows us to maximize our dogs' quality of life.
As we age, or undergo injury, our bodies can begin to weaken. Since the biomechanics of the body are inter-related, weakness in one area often results in compensatory strain in another. Thus begins the snowball effect of sub-optimal function, and a reduction in that quality of life.
Through personally tailored fitness programs, we can help guide our dogs' bodies to maintain maximal functioning potential. We can also preserve that function to help protect against future age related changes and decrease risk of future injury. Canine fitness programs can help reduce discomfort, increase strength and flexibility, and maximize endurance.
Similar to our human fitness regimens, consistency is key for canine fitness. Short durations of consistent, gentle, controlled exercise is more beneficial than infrequent long bursts of high impact activity.
Though ideally we could all bring our dogs in person to participate directly in canine fitness programs, sometimes it may not be feasible due to time or financial constraints.
My goal is to help bridge that gap – when there would be benefit from a fitness program, but not the ability to participate in one directly. My goal is to educate you, as your dog’s caretaker, on safe ways to conduct a home fitness program for your dog that you can do yourself at home.
My 20 years experience in human rehabilitation has taught me that we are usually more successful in creating long term lifestyle modifications when we incorporate a transition to a home program component that can be done independently or with a family member/friend. This allows for short sessions at times that are convenient to you – and that results in more consistent participation. It is easier to continue something long term that only requires short periods of time that conveniently fit into our lives. It is that consistency that will bring about improvement, and the ability to maintain that new level of achievement.
My goal here is to help those dogs who would benefit from a fitness program - due to age, weight issues, decreased daily activity, chronic injury that has already been diagnosed and treated by their veterinarian, etc. - but
It should be noted that if your pet is experiencing a new acute injury, they should first be seen by your primary veterinarian. After veterinarian diagnosis and treatment, every effort should be made to see a Certifield Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner/Therapist in person so that they can directly look at, listen to, and feel your animal for a full functional assessment. They will also trial how your unique dog responds to specific interventions and carefully modify the program over time according to their response. In addition, they may have complimentary modalities to offer such as theraputic laser and/or supplemental exercises such as underwater treadmill during the early stages of recovery.
While a fitness program can help maintain and improve function for an otherwise healthy pet, acute injury requires rehabilitation to safely regain function that has more significantly declined or been lost. Please see the "Resources" section on this site to locate a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner/therapist in your area.
*It should be remembered that the most important factor in optimizing your pet’s health is to have a consistent relationship with a primary veterinarian who knows their baseline status and can monitor for changes over time. Fitness and rehab programs are meant to be complimentary adjuncts to that necessary base in your animal’s care.
*Also, in cases of acute injury, after first consulting your veterinarian for a diagnosis, it is best to work directly, in person, with a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner/Therapist. They will do their own hands-on functional evaluation of your dog and work with you both on safely easing into a rehabilitation program, as well as safely modifying it according to your dog’s individual response.