Myth Buster: Walking is the Best Way to Exercise Your Dog
I love busting myths about dogs and dog training. There are so many… sometimes I don’t know where to begin! It seems most we have grown up knowing about dogs and their behavior is wrong. Think a wagging tail means a happy dog? WRONG!!! Click here for more on that.
Think your dog loves to be hugged?
Chances are you are WRONG for more on that click here (FYI and update this dog still HATES being grabbed, hugged and kissed and sometimes gives a throaty growl; who would blame him) Think all dogs must stay off the furniture or they may conquer the world? WRONG!!! Click here for more on that Think the taste of blood will turn your dog into a vampire? WRONG (this is such a silly idea anyway) for more on that click here And, One more and probably the most dangerous? Think your dogs should fight it out? WRONG!!!! Not unless you want one or two or more dead dogs and huge vet bills; for more on that click here But let’s face it we have heard them ALL…. QUITE FREQUENTLY
Thankfully This One is Not so Dangerous
Well, if you think about it and process it down it can be just as dangerous because dogs die every day due to lack of exercise and understanding their needs. You see; a walk is not exercise for a dog. A walk for us is like a trip to the zoo for your dog. You may be huffing and puffing and getting your 30 minutes of cardio but your dog is on a sightseeing stroll/ tour of your neighborhood looking at the birds, watching the neighborhood kids play, counting cats hiding in bushes, li. You may even be hiking 14 miles up a mountain, but chances are your dog is still dawdling along using the basics of his athletic muscles and hunting squirrels and keeping an ear out for deer or lizards.
The Truth of the Matter
I don’t know how many times I have to say this…. But I guess you have to repeat the important things time and time again.
YOUR DOG IS AN ATHLETE
I don’t care if you have a Chihuahua, a Greyhound, a Lab, a Golden, an English Bulldog (okay a little less athlete), or a Shih Tzu… your dog is a born athlete. And, so I am going to get slightly technical for you so that you can understand your dog in a healthier way. So let’s understand our muscles! We all have fast twitch and slow twitch muscles. Our fast twitch muscles are our anaerobic, they are the muscle fibers that allow us to have short bursts of energy and speed, but that speed doesn’t last long. Think about if you are being chased by someone, it is your fast twitch muscles that come into play. Sprinters use more fast twitch muscles. These are also the muscles that get super sore after a new work out. I won’t get into type IIa and IIb fast twitch muscle fibers you can google it if you are interested in changing your body and you and your dog’s work out. Slow twitch muscle fibers are the ones that most marathon runners have worked hard to build. They are efficient at using oxygen to convert into fuel. They fire more slowly but last for a much longer time helping athletes run, bike or swim for hours
The debate amongst athletes is that you can change some fast twitch muscles to slow twitch muscles to improve your endurance and deal less with fatigue. Of course, if that is true, it takes time and dedication and hours of exercise and training.
Your dog was born an athlete he has more slow twitch muscles than fast twitch muscles and if they can indeed to switched over, he is the expert. He can go from running 3 miles one week to running 6 the next without showing even the slightest bit of fatigue or muscle soreness. Swim him for 2 hours straight and he might sleep the rest of the day, but the next day he will be ready to hit it again. You swim for 2 hours (with no conditioning) and you might as well bring a bed pan to bed with you. See the difference?
Your Dog was BORN AN ATHLETE
He mocks your walk around the block or your jog to the park. His body is in total control and so his mind is scanning the trees and shrubs for something else to do so he can be entertained in his boredom. When was the last time you went for a run and decided to solve some math problems in your head because you were bored? Probably never.
So How Do You Compete?
So how do you compete with such an athlete? I personally like to hook mine up to my bike and make them run at their (almost) full speed (I don’t want to die so there must be some control) and I run them down to a lake where they can swim for an hour or more… talk about tired dogs. OR…. This is for those of you who don’t have a lateral recumbent trike or a lake nearby; I play games of retrieve with a chuck it or flying squirrel or a jolly egg. I make my dogs lay down, sit, find heel position, stand, stay, high five…. Well you get the picture; before I throw his ball, his squirrel or kick his chuck it. 30 minutes of these kinds of calisthenics (think P90X or Insanity) and full body work outs and you have a tired dog physically and mentally. If 30 minutes doesn’t do it, go for an hour or more. Work till his tongue is hitting his knees (just kidding don’t overdo it or give him heat exhaustion). The more obedience you add the more tiring it is, so add lots of obedience and skills to his regimen and you’ll realize that walking is not the best way to exercise your dog!