Another form of conditioning that I find really enjoyable is swimming. It's so great for you and your dog in so many ways! You can get more of a work out in a shorter period of time than you can on dry land, and with zero impact on the bones and joints! Some of the benefits of swimming (I'm pulling these specific points from here) are:
*Increases cardiac output by 30%
*Increases respiratory output by 40-60%
*Increases superficial skin circulation so is excellent for dogs' coats
*One minuter of pool swimming is equal to 15 minutes of rigorous walking
*Warm water increases muscle relaxation to reduce trigger points
*Buoyancy porperties of water decreases concussive forces to joints to dramatically reduce joint stress and allows for greater range of motion
*Swimming increases muscle tone and strength and works the trunk and core muscles that are not used as much with land exercises
In a nut shell, it's just REALLY great for you dog and something you can both do together! Some of them REALLY love it. Others not so much. It's really up to you to be in tune with your dog to figure out if swimming is something they'll like or absolutey won't do. With some dogs, it may just take a little bit to get them in the water. Others, it just may not happen. Right now, Heffner LOVES to swim. He may not be jumping off of a dock just yet, but he deifnitely enjoys swimming after his toy and swimming around with me. Bess, I'm not really sure if she's going to be a swimmer. Right now, of her own free will, she prefers to only wade in up to her chest and that's all. I even have life vests that both dogs wear to help boost their confidence in the water and it doesn't seem to do a whole lot for her. I've gotten her in the water twice and she's swum, but she didn't really look like she enjoyed it.
Swimming is also something that you can do year round, but you'll have to do some looking in the colder months. Indoor doggy swim pools are becoming more and more popular. Near us we have Unsinkable Dogs. I haven't taken either of the dogs just yet. Right now I'm taking advantage of the warm weather and the "free" access I have to the lake near us (I do have to pay a $5 day use fee). However, in the fall and winter I plan on getting the dogs out there. It's great conditioning for them in the colder months and really would spice up our routine. Unfortunately, it's not cheap, so I definitely won't be going as often as I would like to. My plan is that if Bess isn't swimming on her own by the end of the summer, I'm going to try some assisted swims there and see if I can get her swimming with the aid of another person. We'll see!
And speaking of swimming, I took the dogs out to the lake this morning! OMG, it was beautiful out there! The water level was still waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay higher than it was at this time last year, but the water temperature was incredible! It wasn't the perfect kind of warm. Bess ran around on the beach and managed to occupy herself plenty running hither, thither, and yon exploring things and having zoomies in the tall grasses. Meanwhile, Heffner and I did some swimming. I had him do some just normal retrieves of his favorite water toy (the same toy that I've used to try and entice him into the water at the dockdogs practices). Then he and I just swam around in the lake and had some fun just going around. After a while of that, I upped it a notch. I had him pull me back in to shore. He really prefers that I swim back with him any how (he's a total momma's boy and will worry about me if I go out too far without him). At first, he kept looking at me like "what are you doing?" After a few times of that, he just kept trucking me back to shore. Where Bess was usually crouched down waiting to pounce on him in the reed grass! For whatever reason, she got a total kick out of pouncing on him whenever he came out of the water. Usually that would kick start some zoomies and chase games from both of them. Then it was back into the water for Heffner to "rescue" mommy. I took some pictures of the munchkins while we were there. Unfortunately my batter died after only about a half hour, so I didn't get as many pictures as I would like, but here they are!
I've gotten pretty crafty at finding off the beaten path areas to take the dogs around the lake so that I can let them off leash and not have them bothering anyone. It's kind of like our own private beach!
Bess keeping watch from her reed grass "hide-out" And then she pounces!
Heffner likes to do these big funny leaps into the water when he starts to swim. And he does it every time! I tried to catch a little bit of that on camera.
After relaxing for a bit at home, I decided that the dogs and I needed some new summerish nail polish!!:O) Originally my plan was to do a golden yellow base coat and then paint a black sun on each nail with a polish "pen." However, the polish pen had a much thicker brush on it than I was expecting and I had to improvise and do black french tips. I could have just left the nails a pretty golden color, but I wanted more! So each nail gotten two coats of the gold color to make sure that the color really came through. Then I did black tips using the polish pen. The final coat was a top coat to seal everything in.
I used a blow dryer to help get them to dry quicker. I don't care how quick drying the nail polish says it is. When you start doing multiple layers, no matter what it's going to take a while to dry unless you don't care about it smudging or getting completely wiped off. Heffner is great about getting his nails painted. He usually almost falls asleep while I'm doing them. Bess isn't as pleased. She prefers to stand up while I'm doing them and I've been letting her do that, but it makes things really difficult. So this time I got her to lay down like Heffner does. She just doesn't have as much patience for staying in a down stay like he does. Even under normal cirucumstances her down stays aren't nearly as strong as her stand stays. But we made it through!! The next time that I feel like getting creative with their nails, I'm just going to buy a really find paint brush and use that to do decorations. So yes, there will be more to come!;O)