We all regularly take our dogs out for a walk but have you ever looked closely and noticed whether your dog actually walks?
Most dogs especially small dogs trot or run alongside you as you walk. This is great for cardiovascular fitness and is good for conserving energy when going long distance.
However, it can also mean that your dog isn’t using their muscles equally and can in some cases help to hide subtle lameness.
The walk should be a four beat gait. This means each leg is picked up and placed down individually.
Whereas the trot has the diagonal 2 limbs moving at the same time.
When you next go for a walk try slowing down your speed and see how slow you have to walk for your dog to walk. By encouraging your dog to walk even if this is just for 20 minutes once a week you are helping to maintain and build muscle.
Walking slowly will also tire your dog out quicker as they have to use all their muscles and don’t have their forward momentum to propel them along.
Many dogs spend much of their time off lead running around. This is good for burning energy but can cause injury in weak muscles and lead to unevenness in muscle development. Injury is higher if your dog hasn’t been warmed up first. Before letting your dog off lead make sure they walk for 10-15 minutes on lead first to loosen up muscles and increase blood flow. Imagine if you left your house for a run without doing a warm up first, the risk of a muscle strain is highly likely!
Try and fit one slow lead walk into your weekly routine and see if you notice a difference in your dog.
Pictures courtesy of http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/projects/saortho/chapter_91/91mast.htm