It’s New Years day and it’s a big one. We are starting a new decade and that might be the perfect motivation for some to try something new. There are lots of new things you can try, but this post will focus on what you should consider for trying some new things with your dogs. I will follow this up by more detailed posts every two weeks on specific activities and my advice on getting into those activities in particular.
So why try something new? For starters, it might be fun or fulfilling to take on a new activity. You will learn something, grow and develop a new skillset. Perhaps though, you are a bit nervous, since taking on a new activity can be nerve-racking. Below I’ve included some tips on things to consider for both your dog and yourself.
What should you consider for your dog?
New activities can be fun but some will not be suitable for all dogs. If you just got a mastiff puppy, taking up running with your pooch will not work well. Not only do puppies have important growth plates that need to close up, but some breeds will be lower energy and endurance, so they will struggle to keep up. My rule of thumb with puppies is to go at their pace. Some people want to introduce their pup to hiking early on, and that’s ok, but be ready to carry that pup as soon as they slow down, it’s important to make sure we don’t push them too hard.
For older dogs, consider the breed and the fitness of your dog. St. Bernards and other giant breeds will not be your 10km running partner, but may be great partners for a slower paced snowshoe in the woods. Vizsla’s on the other hand will be ready to run, bike, or whatever endurance and speed sport you choose! But keep in mind, if your dog is sedentary, then they need to be introduced to physically challenging activities in a slowly progressing manner. If you’ve never run at all, you wouldn’t go out the door and run a half marathon, the same is to be expected of your dog.
What should you consider for yourself?
Assess where you are and what your current skills are. I will be getting into more detail about specifics for assessing how ready you are for specific activities as I post about those, but know that no matter where you are right now, you can take on any of these activities with your dog. Assessing your fitness in an honest way will help to ensure that you do not hurt yourself when you start a new activity.
Assessing your skillset is just as important as assessing your fitness. For example if you’re planning to take on hiking with your pooch, then knowing what your outdoor skills are and what needs work is very important. The same thing goes for skiing or skijoring with your dog. If you have never cross country skied before, then going out a couple times before you strap a dog to yourself will be key for both avoiding injury and being ready to teach your pooch the skills he or she needs.
Finally, why do it?
You might suck. You really might suck the first time or maybe first twenty times you do a new activity with your dog. So why even try? Because it’s something new. It will challenge you, you will learn and most importantly, your bond with your dog will deepen as you both take on this challenge. No matter what you try, remember that everyone starts somewhere, even olympic runners had to learn to run at some point in time, so why not give it a try, you’re not trying to win gold so the stakes are significantly lower. Plus, your dog will love it.