Frustrated Fit Dog

More than once, following Fit Dog Friday posts, I’ve seen Emma and her mom of My GBGV Life tell me and Kimberly of Keep the Tail Wagging that as our dogs get in the habit of daily walks and runs, none of us will be able to imagine life without them.

I admit, I have been a little skeptical! I still feel irritated and reluctant as I put on my workout clothes, although I tend to loosen up and enjoy myself once we’re out and moving.

Well, consider my skepticism gone.

Wednesday morning, I decided to trim Nala’s nails before we took our morning walk, and it’s a good thing I did, because I noticed that the paw pad on one of Nala’s forefeet had cracked. The internet and experienced dog friends agreed that we should take it easy for a few days–no walks on hard surfaces; lots of calming, mental exercise; no slamming her paws around.

It’s been challenging.

Dorkus.
Digging, then galloping around the yard like a crazy; deciding the duct tape is probably a toy; staring and hypnotizing me into playing with her.

Someone has been very displeased with not getting her run. And as I am squeaked at for the fortieth time in an hour, and my usually cuddly, sweet girl play bows next to me on the bed and then attempts to yank the covers off of me, well, running starts to not seem so bad. To add insult to injury, for the past couple of days it’s been cloudy and cool for the first time in months–so running might actually be downright pleasant, and wouldn’t have to occur at 7 am for no one to overheat.

To keep everyone from going crazy, I’ve dialed up the mental exercise and the conditioning exercises to 11. Sorry for the weird picture quality–all of these pictures are from video recordings of our training sessions.

earnest dog
Nala demonstrates a calm, thoughtful fold-back down. We alternate this with pushing back up to a stand for a few reps, then take a break with another behavior.  I’m learning to recognize the little signs Nala gives of fatigue when we’re building new muscle groups–for this behavior, she flops down suddenly instead of folding down smoothly when her muscles get tired.
*stretch, chomp*
Continued rear-end awareness work. When Nala’s muscles get tired, here, she shifts her weight into her front legs and her back roaches. I’m delivering the treat over the center of the platform to encourage her to use the right muscle groups.
Still so earnest!
A calm, thoughtful chin rest. Since we’ve been working on fold back downs in the same location, she tried bowing before seeing my chin-target hand, then stayed in her bow while doing her chin target! Silly girl.
a gentle, earnest chomp.
The chin target with several seconds of calm duration is a pre-requisite to another behavior I just introduced yesterday, a clicker-trained retrieve. Soon I’ll combine the two to build duration for this behavior.
under the chair, whyyy???
And thank goodness for puzzle toys.

It became immediately clear that I needed to relent on the no exciting physical exercise at all rule, so we’ve been doing some tugging and playing, too. But no frisbee, no hose play, no walks or runs. And after an exciting activity, I always take the time to do some calming or relaxing training with treats that aren’t too exciting (tiny pieces of homemade dehyrdrated chicken hearts and sweet potato chunks for lots of cheap, diet-friendly reps).

Still, I’ll be glad to get back to our runs and hikes. Nala and I are definitely happiest when she gets adequate mental and physical exercise, as I’m learning the hard way this week.

almost out of sweetness
“Yeah, cuddles are great. But can we please go do something now?”

This is part of the Fit Dog Friday blog hop!

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18 thoughts on “Frustrated Fit Dog

  1. What a bummer! That kind of thing happened to Katie sometimes, but Mom put a shoe on her and off we went. Hopefully you both can be out running and walking again soon. You will feel so good to be back at it!

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    1. Thanks! I feel bad filling a post with grainy pictures, but this is everything we’ve been doing this week! Thankfully, it seems to have worked: the beast is sleeping. For now. 😀

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  2. I love running in the cold! We have only been hiking or running a few miles a day right now. It gets so hot so fast! Can’t wait for cold mornings so I can really take my pup for a good hike!

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  3. I love Musher’s Secret – it’s what keeps Blueberry’s paws from completely cracking and drying out in the desert. Do you do nosework with her in the house? Maybe that would be fun for her too. I try to do that for Blueberry if it is just too hot outside for a walk.

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    1. I’m convinced! We’ll pick of some Musher’s Secret for sure.
      I used to scatter kibble around for Nala to find–but she’s so good at that game that it doesn’t make much difference. I was planning to do some basic scent discrimination with her, though, as soon as I can get ahold of some canning lids to stand in for metal articles. 😀

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  4. I totally understand the frustration of being stuck inside with an active dog–Barley and I go through this every winter when it’s too cold or there’s too much snow/ice to get our normal 3-5 miles a day in! Musher’s Secret is great–hope that you’re back to your routine soon!

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  5. Combining physical and mental exercise is definitely the best way to keep our pups balanced and without pent up energy! What a bummer to read about her cracked paw pad 😦 The same scenario occurred on our pup’s Missy’s paw pads a few years ago, and I found a great product for keeping paw pads smooth and from cracking. It’s called Tuf-Foot and can be found online on Gun Dog Supply (Dot com).

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