One of the most creative names I’ve heard people call their dogs is “Five Miles.” As they clip the leash to the collar they announce “I’ll be back soon. I’m going to walk Five Miles.” It’s a joke that never gets old. Well, not for the one who says it.

Let’s say you do not want to take your dogs outside for exercise. When it’s icy, snowy, raining, too dark, too foggy, too hot, too anything, or you’re simply not in the mood, there are things you can do indoors with your dogs besides repeatedly tossing a soggy tennis ball across the room.

In the wintertime where I live, there are sheets of invisible ice lurking under freshly fallen snow on the sidewalks. I’ve become very familiar with the always surprising snow dance: step, skid, slide, and splat. I’m not the only one. The dogs know the dance as well: step, skid, slide, whoah-splat.

Treadmill work. Therefore, at times when the weather makes being outside a “fall risk” for any of us, the dogs get their exercise on our treadmill. It’s not the greatest exercise. But, they enjoy it. Ilaria often climbs onto the treadmill and stares at me, giving me the high sign to turn it on for her.

Treadmill work is a mix of pros and cons. It marginally increases cardio rates and because there is movement, stimulates overall lymphatic flow. Those are the pros.

Even when I increase the incline, there’s minimal if any stress on the body; so for building strength and stamina it is not the ideal exercise. The belt (ground) is already moving. There’s no need to push off from their hind paws or pull forward from their fore paws to move, as they would on the ground. The dogs do not need to work to move.

We seldom think about how much dogs flex and extend the bones and joints in their paws with each step. Pacing on the treadmill belt, their claws are kept retracted as opposed to the more natural movements that reach, grab, and clinch, with each step.

The dogs think about and learn to anticipate synchronizing their pace, coordinating their rates of stride as the speeds of the belt vary. Most importantly, the workout is safe, warm, and dry, and the puppies get to happily jog off excess energy.

Most dogs can be taught to pace on treadmills. Monica, one of our instructors, positions her exercise bike in front of her dogs’ treadmill. They work out together. It’s a sharing activity. That in itself is something dogs love and want to do.

What was my topic? Right. Active Dog – Sport Dog Massage.

When we think of reasons for massage we usually focus on its restorative qualities. We know how much massage helps dogs recover from injury and optimize their quality of life throughout their lives and especially in their advancing years, with all those attendant issues.

Sport dogs, competition dogs, and active pet dogs all benefit with canine massage. Healthy dogs need to stay healthy. They need to maintain and enhance their conditioning. Massage assessment is a way to discover and address small problems before they develop into big ones.

The reasons healthy active sport dogs need massage are the same as for human athletes:

  • flexibility
  • comfort
  • strength
  • confidence in movement

Learn a little more about canine massage as I demonstrate some basic massage skills that are great for active dogs, like my little boxer, Ilaria.

These are

  • assessment strokes
  • frictioning
  • joint mobilization
  • scratching

Would you like to learn more? Find original PetMassage books, DVDs, on-site and home-study course offerings at www.petmassage.com. PetMassage online store

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