If you think you’re getting softish, imagine how bored and soft puppy is getting, lying about watching you lie about. Best plan: Both of you- out the door and off to the park or, for urban pups, around the block for a pleasant walk. Or make up your own doggy Olympics with home-made props and appropriated children’s toys that simulate agility courses for dogs. A toddler crawl tube makes a great “run through tunnel.” Dowels suck in the ground make a great “in and out.” A dowel set on blocks 6 inches off the ground makes a sturdy “jump.” Try this in the dog park, city dwellers, and I bet you’ll get a whole 3-ring circus going.
It’s not only the Shelties and Shepherds who are running agility these days. Malteses are demonstrating great agility and, recently, a Shih Tzu named Bam Bam pulled 664 lbs. in a contest. Hmm, er, … why? Look, I guess it’s OK as long as Bam enjoys herself, but a Shih Tzu, and dogs generally, do not make good draft animals. (Honestly, it slays me to think of asking Raja to try that one.) A Shih Tzu and most domestic dogs are excellent companion animals. They don’t need to work out like real Olympians, but they do like a little field day once a week.
If you are up for trying this light fitness idea out, remember, your dog is probably about as fit as you are. (Well, you live together and eat the same snacks, right? Fluffy, did you finish the chips already?) Don’t expect more of him than you can muster. Take it easy at first and take it slow. Dogs with existing health conditions should not be expected to exercise strenuously. Keep all activities sensible and follow the doctrine of the mean: All things in moderation. (Summer TV is the exception. Just say “No” to summer TV and you’ll feel fitter right away.)
Since a dog gets hot faster than a human being and suffers heat stroke more easily, please watch out for that panting tongue and give your dog frequent rests. Moderate exercise is what you are looking for. Walk and trot; smell a rose; watch a butterfly; stare in a shop window; dogs love a little vanilla sorbet. (A little.)
Raja and I suggest we all use our down time to keep our energy and spirits high because we all want to be in top shape next summer, and the summer after that, etc, etc. Plus, you never know… next year you might get asked to lead the first ever interspecies human and dog expedition over Mt Everest and you don’t want to have to say, “I’ll sit this one out; just pass the Skittles.”
Update on Mexico: Why is it so easy to take your dog into the sunken, bat-infested Camuy Caves of Puerto Rico and so challenging to try to take your dog to a meadow 2 hours drive out of Mexico City? Can anyone say “Raja never eats butterflies” in Spanish? Help!