This week, we’ve been talking about canine fitness programs on the CGC blog. For maximum success and safety when it comes to fitness, measuring and monitoring are two important concepts.
Steps to Measuring Your Dog’s Fitness
1. Start with a veterinary check. Your veterinarian can give you a measure of your dog’s body fat (there are charts for this) and general muscle tone. A beginning weight is an important measure.
2. Establish a baseline. How far does your dog walk, swim or run comfortably when you begin the fitness program?
3. Determine training goals. Remember the behavioral concept of shaping (baby steps), and slowly add distance/time during each session. Begin with a final goal in mind, such as being able to walk 1/2 mile with your dog.
4. Start your fitness training. Be sure to take off time for your dog to recover, just as you would in a fitness program for yourself.
Monitoring Your Dog in a Fitness Program
As you proceed, monitor your dog for any signs of overexertion. Signs of over-exertion include excessive panting or labored breathing. Stop exercise immediately if you see this. More serious symptoms of overexertion mean your dog is in serious trouble–these include vomiting, collapse, weakness, bright red gums, shaky legs, or seizures.
Limping, difficulty walking, or apparent soreness are signs of injury or overexercising.