When Henry first arrived in our home, he joined a pack of very active humans and dogs. Once old enough to keep up, Henry participated in several daily outings with me, Zoe, and Sasha. The daily ritual started by walking Abby to her elementary school and then continuing on a route that took us through beautiful downtown Seal Beach. This hour long walk provided plenty of “meet and greet” opportunities and great exercise for all three dogs. We lived on a Navy base that afforded us the luxury of a tremendous yard that the dogs played in throughout the day. Afternoons found us either hiking through a park, taking a trip to dog beach, or trekking around the Naval Weapons Station where they chased squirrels and rabbits. Needless to say, the activity level kept all three dogs fit, healthy, and quite happy.
Fast forward a few years when Jon’s retirement from the Navy took us off base and into a neighborhood community. Zoe had passed away and we had really began to see the growth of Dog is Good underway. The time spent at work increased and our daily jaunts dropped from 3 to 1 -2 times per day. Both Sasha and Henry still enjoyed the regular outings but my time did not allow me the luxury of spend 60-90 minutes at a time walking or exploring. Now the walks/activities dropped to 45-60 minutes at a pop. This past year, when Sasha lost her leg to cancer, the exercise walks were severely cut. Sasha could only handle 10-15 minutes at a time. Our pace slowed. Over the first several months of this year, Sasha’s health issues caused Henry’s daily routine to change as well. By the time Sasha passed away in June, the poor little guy had put on some weight. How could someone so health conscious, fitness focused, and dog focused as myself let this happen?
I am not alone- I know that many people are challenged to provide the right amount of daily stimulation and exercise that their dogs require. Dogs are not content to hang out in the backyard, chase after a ball for only a few minutes, or lay in bed all day and evening. They need stimulation and exercise in addition to all the behavioral problems that can result from lack of exercise, weight problems in dogs is becoming a growing concern. Just like humans, too much food(treats) and not enough exercise result in weight gain and health issues.
So, how was I going to turn Henry’s weight gain around? I started simply by cutting out the extra treats/snacks, put him on an all natural food product, and started right back up with an appropriate amount of exercise. I am proud to say that in the past few months, we are seeing Henry return to his previous fit, trim, and happy self.
In my work growing the Dog is Good business, I always get to meet amazing people in the pet industry. Three dynamic women have developed businesses in the pet fitness/obesity space and are doing some amazing things with programs and products to keep dogs healthy and fit. Melissa Morrison and Maggie Muller started Fur Fitness a few years ago and have since partnered with Veterinary practices all over the country to help promote pet fitness and wellness. Their Fur Fitness Challenge, a program designed to help pets lose weight and get in shape, is more than a weight loss challenge. It is a chance to join other pet parents in making a real commitment to a lifestyle change and embrace a healthier way of life.
Another incredibly cool concept I ran across this past year was created by Krista Wickens, of PetZen Products. Her DogTread treadmills designed just for dogs, provide opportunity for dogs to get their exercise even during a busy day, inclement weather or right along-side their human. She has also recently added new products that help dogs with balance, flexibility and strength. As well she helped co-found PetsMove.org – a free website dedicated to helping pets and their people to get fit together.
Fit fido classes are another way for both you and your pet to get in shape together. There are trainers all over the country who are facilitating classes that provide basic manners training for your dog while you participate in fitness training for yourself. Agility, fly-ball, dock diving, disc catching, and dancing are all fantastic opportunities to engage your pups in activity that is fun for all. Google all of the above to find facilities and groups involved in these activities near your home.
Needless to say, it is our responsibility to meet the physical and mental needs required for our dogs. Sometimes we just need a little extra help to make that job easier. I hope everyone is out walking, running, hiking, or playing with their dogs, living a healthy lifestyle, and experiencing some Dogvergnugen too!