Would you describe your dog as “very active”? Does the cold nose and wagging tail of a dog who can’t wait to get out and greet the world wake you before your alarm clock each day? If so, agility training or fun runs may be right up your pup’s alley.
Even less exuberant dogs (and their owners) can benefit from the exercise, bonding, and mental stimulation that go along with activities like agility training and running.
Agility Training 101
Dog agility training has increased in popularity in recent years. In agility training, a dog is directed through a variety of obstacles by his or her handler (you). You and your dog do not have to actually compete in an agility contest in order to receive its many benefits:
- Exercise – Both you and your pooch will be getting plenty of exercise during agility training. As your dog runs, jumps, wiggles, and soars over the obstacles, you will be running right alongside him or her. The end result: a great cardiovascular workout for both of you!
- Bonding – In order for a dog to successfully navigate an agility course, he or she must rely on both verbal and nonverbal cues and instructions from you. This teamwork not only strengthens the bond between the two of you, it also helps to reinforce the basic obedience commands your dog already knows, leading to better behavior outside the course.
- Mental Stimulation – Even the most pampered pug is really a born hunter. Dogs have evolved to chase after their prey, leaping, scrambling, tunneling, and otherwise navigating any type of terrain imaginable. Agility courses do a great job of unlocking your dog’s ancient instincts and fulfilling his or her deep-seated desire for a good ol’ fashioned chase.
See one of our Agility Training classes in action:
Agility Fun Runs
Union Lake Pet Services offers both Beginner and Advanced Agility Training classes. For dogs that have graduated from an agility class, we have occasional Agility Fun Runs with friendly racing and prizes to reinforce their agility skills.
Running With Your Dog
There’s no question that dogs and people both need physical activity every day, and any type of running or walking are great ways to get that exercise. Many weekend fun runs allow leashed dogs, and some are even specifically geared towards dogs. With the impending winter just on the horizon, Michigan’s fun run season is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you and Fido can’t spend some time training for next year!
Keep these safety tips in mind when running with your dog:
- If you are considering running as an activity for your dog, bring him or her in for a wellness exam first. We can make sure your pup is healthy enough to run.
- Your vet can also assess whether running is safe for your dog at his or her age, and a safe distance to run with your dog. For example, we don’t recommend running with puppies as their growth plates are not yet ready.
- Watch the weather, never run in the heat of the day in the summer or the early morning or evening hours in winter, and stay home in any weather extreme.
- Check paw pads after a run for any signs of irritation or swelling. In the winter, be sure to rinse your dog’s paws to remove any accumulated salt or ice.
- Always watch your dog for signs of distress, including limping, excessive panting, sudden stopping, or reddened gums, and stop if necessary.
- Short-nosed dogs, such as pugs, boxers, or bulldogs, may not be good candidates for running due to abnormalities within the airways.
- Don’t forget to bring water for both you and your dog.