I’m still feeling kinda puny after having surgery 3 weeks ago. That explains my absence from the blog. I’m very grateful for my friends and family who have helped exercise my critters while I’ve been laid up. I’m back to walking with my dogs every morning now, even if the walks are much shorter than they’re used to. I’ve had to take some of my own advice and multiply my efforts in order to provide Peck & Kaia with enough exercise to keep them from going bonkers.
If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know how important exercise is for dogs. Not the “throw ’em in the backyard and let ’em play” kind of exercise either. Nope, I’m talking about exercise that involves interaction with you. Unless you happen to be a young, fit, well trained athlete, you probably don’t have enough energy to go mile for mile with my dogs. I know I can’t! So I have to find ways to multiply my effort. This is especially important right now because I don’t have as much strength or energy as usual but my dogs are just as full of vinegar as they always are.
Since my dogs are labs, multiplying my effort by using retrieving is a complete no-brainer. I won’t go into any of the finer points of retriever training here because we’re talking about exercise. Tennis balls can be inappropriate toys for some trained retrievers but for others, they are a great way to burn up excess energy without exhausting the trainer. The Chuk-It toy works well for this because it enables you to throw the ball farther than you normally could. Dummy launchers are another method of flinging a retrieving bumper 50 or 60 yards with minimal effort. These gizmos use a .22 caliber blank to throw a retrieving bumper. Once again, not always appropriate for a trained retriever, but a great way to multiply your effort.
Multiplying your effort doesn’t always mean using a gizmo or piece of equipment. Just throwing a bumper is a great way to get your dog to burn energy with a minimum of effort on your part. This works especially well when the retrieve includes swimming. If you have a smooth flowing, safe creek for the dog to cross it’s even better. This is what we did this morning.
This is great exercise because it requires enormous effort for the dogs to cross the current. They have to use all their senses and drive to mark, track and find the bumper. I get to keep all the usual retrieving rules in place so we’re not backsliding on our retriever training. Oh… and did I mention that the dogs absolutely LOVE it?
Multiplying my effort is a very familiar concept to me. I use it a lot. I try to remember little things like taking the path back to the truck that doesn’t include any road or well worn trail. It doesn’t cost me very many calories, but the dogs are much more excited and cover exponentially more ground than they would if we were just plodding down a trail. Any time you can introduce your dog to a new patch of habitat to explore, you are multiplying your effort. The novelty of the situation forces your dog to fully engage his senses. A fully engaged critter burns more excess energy than one that is simply walking on lead with his human companion. Some times it’s enough just to walk the same area, but take the route in reverse.
So, those of you who aren’t marathon runners, what do you do to multiply your effort so that your dog gets the interactive exercise he needs? Please share your tips and ideas. I can always use more effort multipliers!