Whether your dog is big or little, fast or slow, walking is one of the most important activities you can share with your dog. The pack walk, or family walk, is an important part of bonding with your pet. Dogs love to explore and sniff and mark their surroundings. Doing so helps engage curiosity, scent and tracking, hunting instincts and challenges memory, not to mention the full body workout it provides!
Even if your pet is working on rehabilitation of an injury, walking is greatly encouraged as long as it is at a slow, controlled, and assisted (as needed) pace. Neurological patients in particular benefit from practicing walking, working towards the goal of re-learning the intricate movement patterns of a normal stride. As rehabilitation therapists, we are highly trained in gait patterning and assessment. We can analyze lameness as a whole and correct asymmetries and insufficiencies of the body to improve strength and gait efficiency.
We have many tools to help us reach our goals, most notably the underwater treadmill. For more information on how this treatment works, check out our previous blog post.
As we work to correct patterns in therapy, we rely on our clients to reinforce those lessons by doing things as simple and integral as increasing walk durations. Generally speaking we recommend increasing your walks 2-4 minutes each week – so long as the fatigue response is appropriate. An example being, if you were to walk “Fluffy” for 10 minutes on Wednesday, then next Wednesday it’s 12-14 minutes, etc,. This gentle, incremental increase allows us the grace to gradually strengthen while resting the body appropriately.
The key to success is consistency!