Having fun with your dog is a vital part in maintaining a happy, healthy hound – and sometimes as a therapist, I feel like I’m the ‘fun police’, because of some of things I’ll advise an owner not to do with their dog.
So a balance is the key to it all – here’s some handy hints:
Use mind games – not all activity has to be physical – scent games, hide and seek, teaching tricks. All these things are great for a dog that’s recovering from an injury or surgery.
Vary what you do – repetitive activity of any kind can build up trigger points and tightened muscles – and a tight muscle is far more prone to tearing (strain). So if your dog enjoys chasing a ball, don’t keep lobbing it as far as you can, roll it, throw it to your dog to catch, or just allow your dog to carry the ball.
Overuse of wobble cushions etc – these gadgets have their place and can, when used correctly (i.e. by a physiotherapist) be very beneficial in rehabilitation. But we seem to have become preoccupied with ‘strengthening core muscles’ in our dogs, and do more harm than good.
Overtraining – at whatever sport you do with your dog. All bodies – canine and human – need a rest period to allow the body’s tissues to repair and regenerate. Top athletes will have a very varied training regieme to help prevent injury yet improve performance. If you’ve done a great long walk or competed at your chosen sport at the weekend, just do an easy walk the next day. Simple as that!