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When is enough, enough?

Updated: May 13, 2022

Is there such a thing as too much training or spending too much time exercising your pets?

In this blog we will cover:

  1. Signs you need to take a break

  2. Things you can do that are lower impact

  3. What happens if I do too much?

We often hear how we should be doing more with our pets, taking our dogs on longer walks, schooling our horses more or just having less days off. But is there a point where we are doing too much?

It’s easy especially in the midst of a competition season to just keep going.. To forget to take a break or to feel unable to take a break.

I think anyone who ever trains or competes has felt the pressure not to take the foot off the gas as if, if you did take it easy or have a day off you’re setting yourself and your pet up to fail because you will lose momentum or have to start over.

Sound familiar? I know it’s definitely something I've heard but is it what’s best for our pets or even for us?

Now if we look at ourselves and our exercise plans (if you have one?, I try but rarely stick to it) then we know that we can’t do the same level of activity every day without getting tired, injured or just losing motivation.

So why do we look at our pets any different?

Let’s start by looking at how we might know if our dogs or horses are in need of a break and we’ve been overdoing it.

Signs you need to take a break

So we know for ourselves when we’re feeling stiff or tired but how can we spot that in our pets?

  1. Reluctance to exercise or reduced drive/forwardness

  2. Over arousal leading to giddy behavior

  3. Avoidance or sleeping more

  4. Stiffness or shortened stride

  5. Injury

It’s important to remember that these signs could be tiny, only last a few hours or a day or could last a lot longer. If your pet is chronically overwhelmed the effects are likely to last a little longer whereas if you’ve just had a touch week your pet should recover pretty quickly.

If you are worried please speak with your vet and vet physio.

So if you have had a tough week and you and your pet need a bit of a break what are some low impact activities both mentally and physically that you can try?

Things you can do that are lower impact

So even if your pet isn’t showing signs of being over worked or overwhelmed right now it is still a good idea to work in some rest days. These can be complete rest as in no exercise or they can be low impact days. If you are going for low impact days here are some ideas for you.

  1. Flat walks on lead for dogs or in hand for horses you could make this slightly more challenging with different terrain or by riding your horse

  2. Enrichment activities such as group turn out in horses and food puzzles and food puzzles and sniff walks in dogs are a great option for mental stimulation in physically tired pets

  3. For mentally tired pets complete rest is a good choice

  4. Another option to add into your training as a rest day is an activity that isn’t related to your training so this might be a small jump for your dressage horse or an obedience session for your flyball dog.

  5. Have you ever tried just changing the environment to help give your pets their get up and go back?

I hope these give you a few ideas of where to start with diversifying your pet's routines and training to keep both you and them motivated, fit and healthy.

What Happens if I do too much?

If your pet is suffering any ill effects of over work such as an injury, stiffness or pain speak with your vet and vet physio ASAP.

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