Recently, a friend of mine put up a post on Facebook with a link to pictures of ‘dogs who have no idea where all this mess came from’. He kindly tagged the post with “A client for Dr Les no doubt”. Apart from the pictures being great fun I did then have to put my therapist hat on to think more about them. As I replied to him “The editor’s note at the end sums it up from a massagey therapeuticy point of view. No exercise or attention gets a bored or tubby dog”.
In a previous blog I have already written how a daft £1 squeaky ball gives Mr Sam hours of therapeutic and fun exercise on the beach. He comes home too knackered to rip the toilet roll apart even if he wanted to. Plus I can control when he has had enough so he doesn’t injure himself.
The same day I read another article (it is the ex-academic in me…I can’t stop reading research) by Brandy Arnold about the benefits of walking your dog. The article states that “Dogs are great at providing strong motivation to maintain their owner’s exercise program – who can resist a happy dog, panting with excitement at the front door? They make great walking companions and can serve as the perfect social support......Unlike your human buddies who are likely to skip exercise sessions due to appointments or bad weather, dogs will not give you any excuse to miss out on your daily exercise.”
This is a great article as it details not just the benefits to the two-legged walker (i.e. the owner) but also to the four legged walker (i.e. the dog). To the owner, regular exercise by walking your dog can reduce risks of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even colon cancer. To the dog regular exercise can improve their physical and mental well-being, aid with socialization, help reduce behaviour issues (stop them ripping the toilet roll apart) and increase their longevity.
Then yesterday I was asked if I would like to attend a book show where I would be interviewed about what I do and ways that massage and myotherapy could help with dog behaviour. The organiser said “…things like stopping a dog from barking excessively”. I immediately remembered the above article which also refers to exercise helping to curb destructive behaviour such as excessive barking and digging. The dog transfers any negative energy which can bring about boredom into positive opportunities to sniff and explore and run.
As I wrote in a previous post about the myotherapy side of what we do at AchyPaw, exercising the muscles can also be done by the therapist for the client. If fun exercise can be incorporated into the daily routine of the dog then not only will it help their health and maintain their mobility but also your own! But if your dog is injured, immobile or maybe slowing down due to senior years, then the owner or therapist needs to help the muscles along and perform the myotherapy.
A simple exercise to do at home to prevent boredom is a game called Go Find. When Sam and Sarah first went to puppy behaviour class we were introduced to this. The idea was you rub a handkerchief over you to take up your scent and then hide it somewhere in the house. You tell the dogs to ‘Go Find’. They then spend the next 10 minutes walking round the house, sniffing to find the handkerchief. Sam & Sarah have always loved this game, even 8 years later. All I need to do is say Go Find and they are off. If they are ever recovering from an injury or the weather is totally rubbish for outdoor walking, a game or two of this will give them safe exercise in the house but keep them stimulated and prevent boredom. Plus it costs nothing. There are many more such simple exercises which we teach clients.
Massage, myotherapy and dog behaviour are certainly very connected.