It’s important that appropriate skills and activities are presented and practiced during each life stage of the dog, to ensure proper development, function and benefit.
- Working / Performance
- Special Needs
Dog Lifestages & Considerations/Impact During Each
Puppy: birth until growth plates are confirmed closed
During the puppy stage of training, programs are designed to provide sensory input, proprioception, confidence building, body awareness and establishment of foundation behaviors on cue, with proper form. Exercises are done at low intensity for limited amounts of time, over shorter, more frequent session VS longer one’s. This allows the puppy to grow and develop without adding too much stress to baby joints, and gain a proper understanding of their body. Asking too much too soon or doing too many repetitions with a puppy can set up a scenario for issue later in life.
Objectives while working with puppies:
- allow growth plates to close properly and avoid injury (now and in the future)
- allow soft tissue to develop and mature without overstress
- consider issues with spay/neuter (do your research)
- keep sessions short – use a specific amount or # of treats and be done when those are out
- provide foundation behaviors to last a lifetime
Young injury = compensatory issues for life.
Dogs that fall into this category are our true-life best friends. They patiently hang out during the week while we work and live our hectic life schedules, romp and run on the weekends when owners have more time for walks or hikes, and perhaps may even get a bit overweight with “owner guilt” and too many cookies, not quite enough exercise. It is very beneficial for these dogs to have a baseline/maintenance fitness program, to lessen the effects of a “quiet week, overdone weekend” routine. By incorporating simple, quick and easy exercises into these dogs routines, we can quickly improve their muscle tone, flexibility and mental state!!
Performance/Working dogs: all sport dogs, Therapy dogs, Police Dogs, Service Dogs
Each dog asked to “perform” or “work” on a regular basis, should be thoroughly evaluated to determine their precise level of skill and ability. A lot of times (whether we like to admit it or not) we “over ask” of the dogs, and dogs being dogs, they are happy to oblige and do their best for us. However, in the end, what will that lead us to? Early retirement? Injury? Decreased quality of life in later years?
Also you have to be careful as sometimes Drive, Heart and Desire will push a dog to override a small issue, sometimes leading it to become a larger one. Having baselines and knowing your dogs, will help diminish these incidents.
Dogs with Special Conditions
These dogs benefit greatly from starting or continuing an exercise program. A complete history needs to be provided so we can be sure that any and all health history can be factored in, to be sure that the level of work asked of the dog is appropriate for their ability and needs.
Arthritic dogs benefit greatly from a properly designed exercise program. Benefits include:
- Decreased stiffness
- Decreased pain
- Improved flexibility
These programs are generally low-intensity in nature, improve the quality of the dogs life and allow for them to gain a sense of purpose, which leads to an overall improvement in well being.
Our largest goal with Senior Dogs is to minimize muscle atrophy and to keep or senior partners mentally stimulated. Communication with your senior dog’s regular care provider and other professionals is of the utmost importance. Continuing exercises and mental games with senior dogs enriches the bond with their human, for along long as possible.
Maintaining proper weight is key to reducing the risk of additional stress on joints and bodily functions, over the course of the dog’s entire life.
** Before beginning a fitness/conditioning program with your dog, it is highly advised to have your dog seen by a veterinary professional, to be sure there are no physical limitations. **