Dogs Swimming to Get Fit!
Swimming is a great way to get in shape and perfect for staying cool on hot summer days. We have been having a great time enjoying the Canadian and NY Lakes on the weekends with our fur-pals (only bad news is that it does not register on my Fitbit).
We went to Fit Dogs here in Toronto to film some fit dogs and to get some great tips about swimming!
The benefits of swimming include strengthening of the heart and lungs, providing an aerobic workout fast and building muscle without stressing joints and ligaments. This allows dogs to increase mobility, burn fat and build stamina.
“20 minutes is equal to an hour of exercise on land. If we can get that much for your dog you will reap the benefits from it!”
So take your dog to a beach or lake or pool this weekend and let them get in the water. Don’t throw them in though, get them in gradually and make sure they are comfortable and learn how to swim safely. Lifejackets can be helpful for new swimmers or certain breeds that may not be very buoyant.
If you find your dog doesn’t take to water like a fish, try starting slow. Tamara, head coach at Fit Dogs here in Toronto, explains how to ease a nervous dog into the water:
“We usually to get them to get used to the pool we use a lot of positive reward and marking of their movement forward into the pool. We use food or we use voice reinforcement or we use petting the dog. We’ve been able to swim every type of dog you can think of. There might be one or two that can’t swim but I think it generally comes to them naturally. Lots of times we will use a life jacket on a dog. The thing that you are trying to do for the dog is to help it realize that it’s buoyant and that it can feel safe in the water. We like to get them where they are comfortable in the water so that they will enjoy coming in and enjoy this as an alternate form of exercise.”
Swimming helps maintain muscle balance and is great for dogs of all ages, especially seniors!
“This dog (above) is thirteen now and I don’t think you’d know it by watching her move. But if we were to have looked at her 2 years ago, you would have saw muscle waisting on both sides of her hips. And it would have been due to the fact that she could not walk long enough to make muscle. Or to keep the muscle rejuvenated. So the swimming really helps with keeping up muscle tone, muscle balance, strength, because they aren’t weight baring. They are going to enjoy their time as opposed to where it’s painful for them to exercise on land.”
If you really want to see a change quickly Tamara recommends swimming 3-4 times a week.