One huge way we improve our exercise routines is by warming up and stretching before and after workouts. And yet, fitness enthusiasts who bring their dogs along often forget that animal muscles need to be warmed up, too. To help your dog avoid muscle damage and to help her have the most enjoyable workout possible, follow these three steps.
Play a game to get blood pumping:Unlike many of us humans, dogs know the secret to a good workout-- having fun! To get your dog excited for the coming activity while engaging her lungs and muscles, play a quick doggy game. Try tug-of-war or fetch with a favorite toy. Even a frolic around the house is a good way to wake up your pup’s muscles. Finally, before running, make sure to walk for a few minutes to get settled into a balanced stride.
Try some doggy stretches:Stretching before and after workouts is essential to injury prevention. “Cookie stretches” are great to help your pup limber up before hitting the road. Holding a treat in your hand, encourage your dog to jump up on her hind legs, resting her forepaws against you or a bench to lengthen the spine. Use the same lure to get your dog to “bow” on the ground and turn in tight circles in both directions to help her stretch out her limbs and back.
Invest in protective workout gear:Finally, be sure that you have the proper equipment for your dog’s best performance. Just as you wouldn’t want to use worn out sneakers or a torn knee brace, your dog should have gear in good working condition. If you know your dog has injured muscles or ligaments in the past, consider buying a dog wrist brace or knee wrap. If your dog, like one in four dogs in the United States, suffers from arthritis, braces and wraps can be especially helpful for keeping exercise safe. Dog wrist braces, canine leg wraps, dog hock braces, and more general dog arthritis braces should be carefully applied, regularly checked for wear or chewing, and owners should follow all instructions to ensure no further damage to your beloved pup’s joints or skin.
You’re already a great pet parent by exercising with your dog. Be an even greater parent by keeping her safe and healthy with proper warm-ups and good gear to get her through every run, walk or frolic.