Before beginning any exercise program you should ask yourself several questions concerning your health:
• Has your doctor ever said that you have a heart condition and that you should only do physical activity recommended by a doctor?
• Do you feel pain in your chest when you do physical activity?
• In the past month, have you had chest pain when you were not doing physical activity?
• Do you lose your balance because of dizziness or do you ever lose consciousness?
• Do you have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in you physical activity?
• Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs (water pills) for your blood pressure or heart condition?
• Do you know of any other reason why you should not do physical activity?
If you answered “Yes” to one or more of the questions talk with your doctor before you begin exercise. If you answered “No” you are probably fit enough to begin an exercise program. If you have any questions or concerns you should speak with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program.
If you have any concerns that your dog is overweight, or has any medical concerns, talk with your veterinarian prior to beginning any exercise program for you pup.
You will need comfortable clothing and good tennis shoes. As you will probably be performing the exercises outside remember to dress for the weather, and layer your clothing. To layer for colder weather wear most recommended is three layers. The base layer next to your skin should be a tight fitting wicking material. Examples of these materials are polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax or Thinsulate. Don’t wear cotton as cotton will absorb moisture and trap it next to your skin. Next wear a slightly looser- fitting garment made of a material such as down, polyester, fleece, wool or newer synthetic/natural blends. These two layers serve to wick moisture away from you body, helping to warm and dry. The third layer or outer garment serves to block wind and let moisture escape. Choose a garment made of Gore-Tex, with ventilation zippers. For warmer weather choose garments made of the wicking materials described in base layers. This will move moisture away from your body and help keep you cool. Choose good tennis shoes!!! Remember, your feet are your foundation! While good tennis shoes can be expensive, a well-fitted shoe can help deter or alleviate feet problems.
For your dog you will need a flat collar, a 6’leash, possibly a 20’ leash (for more advanced movements and training), and a bag of small yummy treats. The treats should be approximately the size of the tips of your finger. Check for low calorie, natural treats or your dog may gain weight during training!!! Treats are easiest stored and given when placed in a small pouch on your waist. I wear a small inexpensive pack which I can also stash keys and my cell phone in. I’m not an advocate of choke, prong or electrical collars, and don’t recommend them for these training sessions. I rely much more on positive reinforcement theories and that during training you will be interacting with your dog, keeping them focused on you and thinking. Don’t forget water for both you and you dog! Even in winter when you think you’re cold you both need water during exercise.
Picking a site to exercise and train should be creative and fun. If you have the luxury, pick a beautiful spot you want to go to. I found a playground area to be like Christmas when it came to features I could use for exercise. The many features and fixtures offered endless possibilities for exercise and training on various levels. But, you can also set up a routine in your backyard or park with no playground. I’ll explain in later blogs how to set up an exercise course if you can’t make it to a park.
So, it's “time to grab the leash and get the lead out”