A working dog’s job can be extremely physically demanding - long days full of standing, sprinting, jumping, turning, and quick thinking. To ensure their safety and a job well done, we want to make certain they are physically and mentally prepared to work. Working dogs have many of the same risks associated with highly competitive canine athletes and can reduce their risks of injuries by having a consistent physical training program. Throughout their career it’s important that they develop and maintain core strength, body awareness, flexibility and self confidence.
Strength and cardio training are essential to a working dog’s wellbeing. The goals of any fitness program for working dogs are to increase strength and endurance, while decreasing the potential for injury. The name of the game is staying in the game. The right program will focus on improved reaction times and control, trunk and core strength, balance, range of motion and proprioception. It will also focus on stabilizing weaker areas of the body and reducing the risk of work-related injuries.
Military, Police, Protection K9s, and Search-and-Rescue Dogs
Breeders, trainers and handlers of K9 dogs used for protection and search-and-rescue know the importance of work hardiness for your working dog. Dogs with these jobs are often exposed to challenging and unstable surfaces and need to be ready for long hours of field work. Incorporating strength-training on the unstable surface of a FitPaws® Peanut is a great way to accomplish strength-training, body awareness, and balance training. Incorporate the FitPaws® Wobble Board, Giant Rocker Board and Balance Discs into a puppy program for exposure to moving surfaces and different textures on the paws. The FitPaws® Agility Kit can be used for crawling exercises, jump training, lateral side stepping exercises and other body awareness exercises.
Therapy and Service Dogs
Breeders of service dogs can start with the low-impact FitPaws equipment as a part of their super puppy program. The FitPaws® Balance Products – Balance Pad, Balance Discs and Wobble Boards can be incorporated into their surface training program by laying the equipment out in an obstacle course. Therapy and service dogs need to be confident when walking across any type of surface. The unstable and textured surface of these products will help develop confidence in different environments.
Service dogs that assist their human for counter balance will benefit from core strength and balance training on a FitPAWS Peanut. The FitPaws® Peanut can be stabilized between a couch and a coffee table, so the owner can continue with training exercises at home. Because of the interactive quality of the FitPaws equipment, training will continue to strengthen the bond between owner and service dog while giving the dog an important outlet for its excess energy.
Herding and Hunting Dogs
Hunting and herding dogs move fast in the field and often hurdle over branches and under natural obstacles to chase down their game or herd their flock. Having keen body awareness and a strong core can help your dog perform their best when they are on the job. Proprioception exercises on the FitPaws® Balance Discs and Wobble Boards can help a dog instinctively learn how its body moves in space so that it can respond to different environmental factors at fast speed.
Oftentimes, hunting and herding dogs can strain themselves by twisting themselves the wrong way in a ground hole or on an uneven surface. All movement begins from the core, so developing strong core muscles by cross-training on a FitPaws Peanut can reduce the chance of injury and help improve overall field performance. Running also takes endurance training. Increase hind end strength with sit-to-stand reps on two FitPaws® Donut or Balance Discs. Consider using the FitPaws® Product Holders when you are beginning training to help stabilize the Donuts and make it easier for your dog to get used to.
Consider using the FitPaws® Peanut as a substitute for a barrel when teaching the “Whoa” command. Dogs learn to engage their core muscles and major muscle groups in order to keep balanced on the unstable surface of the Peanut. As they become stronger, they learn to keep the movement of the Peanut at a minimum.