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An Introductory Guide to Canine Conditioning and Fitness

It's no secret that dogs need exercise. Regular exercise benefits include:

  • Increased physical and mental health
  • Stronger muscles and bones
  • Better sleep patterns
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Improved digestion
  • Weight loss or maintenance; and the list goes on! 

However, most of us are not professional dog trainers. 

So how do you know if your pooch is getting enough exercise? How do you know what kinds of exercises are best for them? And lastly: why should we even bother training our dogs at all? If you're asking these questions yourself, or if you've been wondering about canine conditioning in general, read on!

The purpose of this article is to introduce you to canine athletes' conditioning and fitness. As a dog owner, you are likely aware of the many physical activities your dog enjoys. 

Most likely, they have the energy to play for hours on end and still be ready for more fun once they're done. However, their seemingly limitless energy needs proper training in order to ensure their health and longevity as a dog.

As a pet owner, it's important that you understand your dog's needs when it comes to physical activity so that they can remain healthy while also keeping them happy by making sure they're exercising regularly (and having fun!). The information found here will help guide you through what canine athletes need in order to stay physically fit.

What is Conditioning for Dogs?

Training your dog is about instilling specific behaviors, but conditioning is about building the body to be able to perform those behaviors. Conditioning can include training and exercise, but it's more about having a dog who is physically able to do what you ask of them. 

When we talk about conditioning dogs, we're not just talking about basic health; we're also talking about their physical fitness level.

Canine Conditioning vs. Dog Training

Canine athletic conditioning vs. dog training is an important consideration for any pet owner. A well-trained dog is a happy and healthy dog, but most owners don't know the difference between the two, as it is not generally common knowledge.

Dog training involves teaching your pup to perform behaviors you want them to perform on command. 

This can include:

  • Walking on a leash or at heel
  • Coming when called
  • Sitting down instead of jumping up when you open the door
  • Doing tricks

Canine Fitness

Dog training can also help establish boundaries in your house so that your dog knows where they’re allowed to sleep and where certain things belong, like their food bowl or toys.

Canine athletic conditioning, on the other hand, is designed to increase a dog's fitness level through physical activity and exercise. 

Training sessions will often include some sort of fitness component, such as running or agility, but they're not focused on building endurance or strength like conditioning is.

Establishing a sound foundation is the first step toward building up your dog’s fitness.

  • Start with short, gentle walks.
  • Gradually increase the duration and speed of walks over time to build endurance.

Understanding the Basics of a Canine Conditioning Program

When it comes to conditioning, there are two main factors: fitness and conditioning

Fitness is the ability of your dog’s body to perform a specific task repeatedly, while conditioning refers to his ability to recover from that effort.

For example, a dog that can run a mile in 5 minutes is probably fit but not necessarily conditioned (unless you’re training for an ultramarathon). A dog who can run that same mile in 5 minutes after doing 10 jumps over hurdles is more likely to be conditioned.

When evaluating your own canine athlete’s fitness and conditioning levels, you should think about how long they can run or swim before needing a rest break. If they need a reprieve after only five minutes of exercise on their first day outdoors together but seem fine for more than 20 minutes by week six of training together, then you know that something has changed.

Dog Fitness

Four Essential Elements of Conditioning a Dog

There are four main elements to conditioning a dog. Although exercise is an integral component that will be discussed here, it’s not the only one.

  1. Nutrition: The first element is nutrition. You need to get your dog on the right diet, and then make sure they're getting enough of it! Incorporating a daily supplement, like Canine Cush, containing an anti-inflammatory can also be beneficial to canine athletes by helping them recover faster and reduce impact on the joints.
  2. Exercise: The second element is exercise. Exercise can be as simple as walking around the block or jogging through the park. It all depends on what you want your dog to do and what your dog is comfortable doing.
  3. Mental: The third element is mental stimulation and stress reduction. Your dog will behave better in every situation if they have something positive going on inside their head outside of just "being with you." This could mean anything from playing fetch or tug-of-war with them, giving them something fun to chew on like a Kong toy, teaching them tricks or games like hide-and-seek (wherein one person hides while another person calls out for their pet by name before hiding themselves), etc.!
  4. Rest: Resting properly after exercise helps increase recovery time between workouts so that muscles have time to rebuild themselves stronger than before (which means more muscle mass!).

Dog Conditioning Exercises: Make it Habitual 

Dogs are creatures of habit. They need regular exercise, but they also like routine and predictability. This can be a challenge because many people want to take their dogs on long walks every day, but their dogs aren't physically ready for it yet. 

If you've just adopted your dog or if you've had them for a while and have never exercised them before, your first goal is to get them into good physical shape so they can handle the kind of exercise program that works best for them. You should start with short walks where they can build up endurance slowly at first and then gradually increase the distance walked over time until he's ready for longer walks.

There are some general guidelines about what makes an effective canine athlete conditioning program:

  • Dogs need regular exercise in order to stay fit and healthy. However, too much exercise can actually cause problems such as muscle strains or joint injuries (especially in small breeds).
  • The goal should be moderate exercise several times per week instead of strenuous workouts every day! 
  • Exercise should be fun! Dogs love playtime with toys, so incorporate those into your workout plans too (just make sure they're safe ones)! 
  • Exercise should be structured, meaning there is some type of plan involved rather than just 'letting them run around'. Think about games like fetch, where both human AND animal partners work together toward achieving success at something challenging; this helps keep both parties engaged throughout the process!

Get Started with Canine Conditioning Exercises

You should now have a basic understanding of what canine athletes need to be physically fit, how they can achieve fitness through exercise, and the importance of fitness testing in determining if your dog is ready for competition.

Athletes are only as good as their physical condition allows them to be, so it's important that dogs get regular exercise at all ages. If you're planning on competing with your dog in an athletic event, make sure he or she has been properly conditioned beforehand by taking him or her to a trainer who specializes in conditioning for competition.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start getting your dog in shape! You can take them on off-leash walks or go on hikes. Do they enjoy swimming? Play fetch with them at the beach or local park. If they prefer indoor activities like chasing their tail around the house, then try out some agility training exercises like weaving poles or jumping over hurdles. Whatever method works best for both of you is fine, as long as you’re doing activities frequently.

And don’t forget to support your dog’s joint health with Canine Cush so they can stay active, comfortably, throughout their lifetime.

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