5 Steps to choosing your dog and horse's fitness exercises

Updated: Apr 16

What do I need to know before creating a fitness plan for my pet?


You’ve heard you should have a fitness plan for your pet but you’re not sure why or how to get started?


Don’t worry I’m here to help, in this post, you’ll find all the information you need to get started on your pets fitness plans.


So let's start by having a look at what a fitness plan is.


A fitness plan is a set of 5-6 exercises that you complete with your pet each day. The goal of these exercises can be to improve athletic performance, quality of life or to improve poor core strength.


The goal of your fitness plan will depend on your pets current fitness works level and your goal for your pet. So it will come as no surprise to you that this is the first step in designing a fitness plan.


Step 1: How do I know what my goal should be?


Your goal should focus on your pets weakest points.


A great way to get an idea of what these might be are to watch your pet move in a walk and trot and see if they move all limbs evenly. Then you can assess your pets muscle mass. Is it the same left to right and front and back?


Once you’ve assessed your pet you’ll have a much better idea of their weak points.


Step 2: What is your GOAL?


Start by being clear and specific with your goal. Is it to improve your pet's fitness for competition, to improve core strength to prevent injury or to improve quality of life?


Once you know your specific goal its 10 x quicker to create your fitness plan, no wasted time looking at exercises that won’t help you.


Step 3: How do I know which exercises will help?


Once you’ve got your goal you can start looking at exercises that fit that goal.


This is where you combine steps 1 and 2.


If your pet lacks right hind muscle for example you would focus on hindlimb and muscle gaining exercises.


So now you’ve got the idea here are a brief list of the most common exercises for each area of your pet.


Forelimbs and Hindlimbs:

  • Backing up

  • Walking, trotting and cantering

  • Hill work

  • Cavaletti

  • Weight shifting


Core:

  • Weight shifting

  • Cavaletti

  • Hill work

  • Backing up

  • Ab lifts

  • Tricks

  • Pelvic rounding


You can find out more about core conditioning here.


The exercises you choose will depend on your pet, either dog or horse and whether you want to focus on muscle building, strength or range of motion.


Step 4: Writing your plan


Now you’ve got your goal and you’re ideal exercises it's time to decide how many reps and the intensity of these exercises you want to do.


Now don’t worry if I’ve just lost you its really quite simple.


Take an exercise lets say walking, trotting and cantering. Walking is the easiest intensity, increasing as you go to a trot and canter. And the reps would be in this case how many/long your trot etc. is.


I would always advise you to start with the lowest intensity and around 3-5 reps.


It’s important to remember here that as you progress your plan you should only change one of these things at a time so either add in trot or walk for longer.


Which brings us to step 5.


Step 5: Implementing and progressing your plan


Once you’ve got your exercises and start reps/intensity you can create a plan for 4 weeks.


You should change 1 thing each week either reps or intensity of each exercise BUT only if your pet is coping if they are not coping you should take a step back.


After 4 weeks you should reassess your pets and then go through this whole process again to create their plan for the next month.


Now those are your 5 steps:

  1. How do I know what my goal should be?

  2. What is your goal?

  3. How do I know which exercises will help?

  4. Writing your plan

  5. Implementing and progressing your plan


So now you have no excuses not to get your pet started with a fitness plan.


Still, feel like you need a little extra help? We’ve got all the help you could need in our Total fitness and webinar bundles which you can find at www.fitpetphysio.com/shop


What do you need to know before downloading our Total fitness and webinar bundles? Absolutely nothing! They will take you from complete beginner to expert in just a few hours! Saving you tonnes of wasted time.





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