We love hiking but our options are limited in the winter. Even though we switch to snowshoeing, many of our winter hiking trails aren’t accessible or are too hard for us – hard for someone not in the best shape (that would be me) or short, little dogs (that would be Chester and Gretel). We still get out when we can, but our trips are fewer and shorter than they are in the summer.
Every winter I resolve to find inside activities to keep Chester and Gretel in shape so they are ready to hit the mountains as soon as the snow melts. Every winter I feel like I fell short.
This winter has been different. We have been consistently visiting an indoor play facility once or twice a month where they have some agility equipment. We have a DogTread small dog treadmill that I won earlier this summer (however, it STILL has not been set up…but it will be soon. I promise). The nice folks at DogTread also sent me a K9 FITBone for Chester and Gretel.
The K9FITbone is a balance “ball” for dogs. It’s shaped like a bone and has a flat-ish top and base. I imagine it is easier for dogs to use than the round FITPaws equipment. That is fine with me tough because this is my first time using this kind of equipment. to strengthen Chester and Gretel’s core. Although it is good for beginners, the balancing can be made more difficult by putting more air into it until the top and bottom start to round and having them stand on the bone sideways (only possible for small dogs).
Doing core strengthening exercises with your dog has many benefits including; increased trunk and core strength, increased range of motion in the joints, improved balance and awareness of the body’s position in space, and stabilization of weak areas. All of these things are very important to improving your dog’s hiking abilities and keeping them safer while doing it.
I’ve been training Chester and Gretel to get up onto the bone and jump back off on command. I admit that I have been bribing them with Zuke’s low-calorie, vegan, Skinny Bakes treats but I am ok with that because they are only 9 calories each. They are scored in the center so I actually break them in half so I get more “action per treat”. They don’t always break perfectly but that is ok with me. If I can get 3 treats out of one that is even better.
Chester and Gretel not only love the flavors but love the crunch (the majority of the treats I usually give them are soft). Using these treats, I managed to teach them the up and off exercise routine in the video below in only three days.
I admit that their mount and dismount is not perfect yet but I have no doubt they are getting a good core workout and we will continue to work on it. I know that between the new Zuke’s Skinny Bakes, and our old standby Zuke’s Mini Naturals, I won’t have to worry about expanding Chester and Gretel’s waistline with our short training sessions.
We’ve had a love affair with Zuke’s since before they had any idea who we were and we are proud to have them as one of our long-term sponsors. Their continued support helps to make sure we have the treats we need to fuel our adventures and that I can continue to share our stories and tips. Zuke’s provided us with Skinny Bakes to try in exchange for featuring them on our blog. To me, free doesn’t mean good though. Everything I say about Zuke’s treats is my honest opinion.