Who (or what) is Your Whole Dog? And, what do they do? Why do they do whatever it is they do?
I covered cooperative care in Part One. If you missed it, you can catch up here
This is Part Two, and it's a 3-dog story all about fitness.
This story starts with Lizzie. She was an extremely overweight (55kg, and change) Labrador that waddled in to our lives in 2012. She had a zest for life and a determination to not let her weight or her, almost certainly arthritic, joints get her down.
Through her I discovered that dogs in an underwater treadmill was a real thing, and I also found the world of canine fitness, strength and conditioning. Lizzie was 31kg when her time was up (mast cell tumour - her second - nothing to do with weight or rickety joints), and I'm still amazed at what she achieved. She had had a program that was individual to her, suited to her abilities, and she thrived. She was lean, she was fit, she was skippy.
Lizzie. Demonstrating enthusiasm, and how not to use a FitBone
Whilst I was figuring all this out (and buying exercise peanuts), I was also going to agility training with Wolly. It occurred to me that if I was getting the fat dog fit, the agility dog might also benefit. So, Wolly and I took classes too. People tell you that fitness exercises are a great way to build confidence for nervous, shy dogs. Turns out it's true. If there's one thing that Wolly can be relied upon to eagerly want to do, it's his fitness exercises. I think it's because the stakes are different; the dog is never wrong, and the reinforcers are free-flowing. They learn how to move and be comfortable in their body. There's a different, more relaxed vibe, Wolly's 12-years old now, and we still do exercises most days. It keeps him mobile, flexible, active, engaged. And, fed!
Wolly. He stands for snacks.
When Tigg, who is now seven, was a little over a year old I discovered that she had hip dysplasia. By this point I already knew that fitness work was going to be a part of our lives, as we had been doing puppy-appropriate activities as part of our agility aspiration preparations (and puppyhood-sanity-saver!). There was a change of focus though, as I sought advice on adjustments for an HD dog. Weight management is a priority, and strength exercises have been a fundamental aspect of keeping her fit and active.
Tigg. Because she does this .....
She's part-beefcake, and, after a myriad of classes and workshops, canine fitness has become our sport. It's important to me that she be able to do what she loves, what makes her happy. And that, second to woofing, is running and leaping.
... it means she can do this!
Canine fitness and conditioning has become a well recognised activity, and for good reason. It's something that all dogs can benefit from, just like their humans. And, like everything else that YWD specialises in, it's something I have had to figure out for myself. I've taken classes, workshops, seminars, webinars. In 2022 I completed the Certified Professional Canine Fitness Trainer course, and I am currently enrolled in the Certified Canine Strength and Conditioning Coach program.
So, that's the fitness story - a slightly abridged version of it!