Being healthy and strong is key for your pet to live a long fulfilling life. Similar to humans, dogs have to eat well and get plenty of exercise to stay in shape. Humans lift weights to improve their strength, and your dog has to do the same if that’s his goal. Ways to help your dog get stronger include weight pulling, but before you have him do any strenuous physical activity, it’s important that you get clearance from your veterinarian.
In addition, your dog should have a foundation in basic obedience. This will reassure you that he knows the right way to behave in any moments of chaos. If this is the first time your dog is pulling weight, then it’s best to start small. For example, have him practice dragging his leash around, and then progress to an attached empty cart. From there you can start adding weight as long as your dog is comfortable with it. Most importantly, never force your dog to pull more than he can handle to avoid mental and physical fatigue.
Besides fitness, your dog’s diet also influences how strong and fit he can be. Where your dog gets his calories from matters, which is why It’s best to avoid a high carb diet because it’s been known to produce skin without suppleness and coat without shine, bulky lower-bowel contents, trace mineral deficiencies, and smelly gas. A diet high in protein and fat is best if you want your pup to perform to the best of his abilities.
Have a question for Dr. Klein? Email him at CVO@akc.org