April is National Canine Fitness Month! As competition season for many dog sports ramp back up, now is the perfect time to design a fitness program for your dog.
Canine Conditioning and Fitness is a growing trend for both pet dog and competitive sport dog owners alike. Programs such as the University of Tennessee’s Certified Canine Fitness Trainer program educate dog care professionals such as trainers and veterinarians on how to craft fitness programs for canines. Other programs, such as the American Kennel Club FIT DOG program, encourage dog owners to get out and be more active with their dogs. The AKC even awards an AKC FIT DOG designation to owners who walk their dogs a minimum of 3 miles per week regularly for three months.
Fitness can be as simple as a regular walking program. When engaging in a walking program, be sure to outfit your dog with comfortable and safe gear. Harnesses designed for pulling, such as sled dog harnesses, can also be used for Bikejoring or Canicross. Bikejoring and Canicross are dog-powered sports where the dog plays an active role in pulling the handler or bike along the path. These harness designs allow for full freedom of movement and are comfortable for the dog to pull in.
For dogs walking in more of a city environment, help your customers get a handle on their walks. The number one complaint from dog owners regarding leash walking is that their dog pulls. Outfitting them with proper leashes and harnesses can resolve pulling issues and lead to a more enjoyable walk. Front attachment, or “no-pull” harnesses, work by giving the dog owner more leverage over their dog. By connecting the leash to the front of the dog, the handler is better able to redirect the dog's attention back to them when the dog gets distracted and pulls.
Not all Front attachment harnesses are designed equally. Look for harnesses that have a Y-shaped front. When exercising your dog, form matters; harnesses that have straps that cut across the shoulder impede movement and alter the dog’s gait. Look for designs like Blue-9’s Balance Harness® which include adjustment points for the top and chest strap as well. By fitting the girth strap out of the elbow area, you minimize the risk of chaffing.
Too cold to go outside? Indoor exercise products such as Blue-9’s KLIMB Canine Conditioning Kit. The KLIMB Conditioning Kit includes an instructional video with over 30 exercises. Fitness exercises like puppy pushups and doggy squats work both the dog’s brain and body. Just 10 minutes of fitness skills like this can be enough to tire your pup.