Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A new approach - Push Ups n PawS

A basic obedience training program/obedience reinforcement program has many proven benefits for your dog. In addition, an exercise program for you and your dog has many proven health benefits. But many of us have work, social or family obligations such as sports or extra curricular activities that limit the time we can spend with our dogs.
With today’s tough economic times you may have had to give up the gym membership, or if you did keep it, feel guilty about going to the gym and leaving your dog alone for yet a longer time period. How can you squeeze in exercise for you and training for the dog into a busy schedule? How to combine activities to promote exercise, the dog’s basic obedience, and create a bonding experience in a fun-filled, stress-free environment while still fulfilling your obligations? Easy – use a creative approach and combine the three with a fun, interactive program; Push Ups n PawS.

Push Ups n PawS is NOT - just walking the dog or doing a couple exercises. It is a more comprehensive approach that blends cardiovascular/ total body exercises for owners with basic obedience training for their dog. Cardiovascular exercise is designed to improve the owner’s cardiovascular conditioning while improving the dogs loose leash skills. Each total-body exercise is paired with a complimentarily basic obedience command or que. The result is a fun-filled session in which the owner gets a great workout, and their dog learns basic obedience, or receives obedience reinforcement, in an environment that is geared to be fun, stress-free and promote a bonding experience.

There’s a difference between taking an obedience-trained dog for a walk and just taking the dog for a walk. The obedience-trained dog walks quietly and confidently at your side, stops when you do, and waits patiently for your next que or command. Taking your dog for a walk, depending on your dog, can mean a yipping, yapping, jumping (often excused as extra enthuasism) foray to being drug around the park having your shoulder ripped out of socket and dreading the next encounter with a person or dog( he just wants to say “Hi”). The obedience-trained dog ignores distractions such as food/trash, smells, dogs or other animals, while with the untrained, or poorly trained dog, it can be a tug of war trying to pull the dog away or off such distractions. Remember your frustration with the last dog that came running at your dog on a zip-leash - back hair straight up, tail straight out, ears pinned-back, teeth bared, with the owner yelling “He’s friendly!!” In your mind you’re thinking which is cheaper – a visit to the ER or vet?? Push Ups n PawS is designed to help teach your dog basic obedience so that taking a walk is a now a fun activity that can be enjoyed by both, and teaches safe and courteous dog behavior.

By combining total-body exercises with cardiovascular exercise you will burn significantly more calories. Larger groups of muscles are employed and exercised, and conditioning is not limited to specific groups of muscles. Think about it – walking/running is good for cardiovascular, but is limited to conditioning only limited number of muscles. Incorporating a variety of exercises can improve the workout to a total body workout and can increase the level of the workout. Recent studies have shown that depending on the level of exertion up to 600 calories/hour can be burned. If you have a younger pup you are working with, this would be an unrealistic goal, but with a more experienced dog this could be a realistic workout. Your dog is also engaged in a physical and mental activity that will help condition and enhance their life.

Push Ups n Paws means taking advantage of that hour that you had to arrive before sports practice or extra curricular activity, not feeling guilty about giving up the gym membership or feeling guilty that you left your dog at home to head to the gym. You’ve got a spare hour to do something, but it’s not the scheduled time with your professional trainer? It’s about doing something with your dog other than take them to a dog park to play with other dogs while you sit and watch. It’s about spending bonding time with your dog, having fun and exercising.

Push Ups n Paws can be a group or single activity. It’s more fun with a group of free-spirited friends, but the benefits are also there for the single who wants to enjoy the benefits of exercising with their dog. I’m not sure there’s a dog on the planet who would say “No thanks” -“ I’m too tired-I’ve got dinner-Gotta run the kids-How about tomorrow-I’ve got a meeting-whata whata whata” when you grab the leash and ask if they want to go.

Consider it as a good investment, triple your money. You and your dog receive exercise, your dog receives basic obedience and both of you benefit from valued one-on-one time that is geared to a stronger relationship and a better owner and companion-dog relationship.

Push Ups n PawS is of course not for every person or every dog. The next blog will cover some physical activity limitations for owners, and training guidelines for dogs.