Here’s a simple strength-training program for your senior dogs, aimed at improving balance, stability and function. Follow this program and over time you will see improved body composition as well. As an extra benefit there may be a reduced incidence of injuries through preventing muscle weakness and muscle imbalance. Have Fun!!
Considerations & Precautions:
- Find a non-skid surface and a wall.
- Use the FitPAWS® Harness to stabilize your dog to prevent falls and encourage confidence.
- Use low calorie treats – or the daily dog food.
- Your dog may have to start with fewer reps and may only be able to do 1 set.
- Encourage your dog to become familiar with all equipment – let them smell/see equipment.
- See your veterinarian prior to beginning any new exercise program with your senior dog
- Progressions of each exercise should be attempted only after you see that your dog has mastered the current exercise with proper technique. If you move to the next level and your dog cannot perform the exercise, back down to the previous level. Don’t worry, your dog is getting stronger!
- Warm up:
5 minute walk prior to starting the program.
Do not “stretch” cold muscles. If you have questions about when to stretch, contact Dr. Fisher.
5-10 reps of each exercise; 2 sets 4 times/week for 1 month.
Rest 30 seconds between sets
10-15 reps of each exercises; 2-3 sets twice weekly – no rest between sets
1. Squats: working the Hindlimbs including the gluteal muscles and the core. Your dog is also encouraging good range of motion of the joints of Hindlimbs.
- Initial Position:
Start with your dog standing against a wall – you may even want to have your dog in a corner.
Using treats, ask for the sit. Return to stand.
Raise the Forelimbs on a FitPAWS® Foam Balance Pad for one workout after the dog can perform the exercise with a square sit.
This position asks the Hindlimb muscles to work a little harder.
Add a second foam Balance Pad
- Add instability by having your dog place their Forelimbs on the FitPAWS® Giant Disc
- Add even greater challenges if your dog is up to it by placing the Forelimbs on the FitPAWS® Donut and then the FitPAWS® Peanut.
- Instability engages the core muscles of your dog and the added height challenges the Hindlimb muscles even further.
Change the sit to a squat by encouraging your dog to walk a few quick steps along the wall as soon as your dog starts to sit. Don’t let your dog touch their hind end to the floor
2. Push Ups & Drops: working the Forelimbs and core, encouraging balance & strength. You are also encouraging good range of motion of the joints of the Forelimbs.
- Initial Position:
Encourage your dog to place their Forelimbs on the FitPAWS® foam Balance Pad. Let your dog get used to the equipment. Using a treat, encourage your dog to move into a “bow” position keeping the Forelimbs still. Using a treat, encourage your dog to stand back up.
1. Encourage your dog to place their Forelimbs on the FitPAWS® Giant Balance Disc and repeat above.
2. Move to the FitPAWS® Donut
- and then the Peanut, repeating the above exercise.
By Kerry Fisher, DVM, CCRP
Throughout her career as a veterinarian, Dr. Fisher has focused on “Pre-hab and Rehab” for animals, pioneering therapeutic & conditioning exercises with FitPAWS® Equipment. Dr. Kerry has a passion for and experience with Sports Medicine for sporting, search & rescue, performance, and hunting dogs, Senior Fitness, Weight Management, Pain Management, Physical Rehabilitation, Acupuncture, Chiropractic care, Cancer pain management and Behavior modification through exercise. She is an athlete herself, enjoying endurance triathlons, mountain biking, bicycle touring, backpacking and telemark skiing.