Arrow doing play bow for treats

Teach your dog tricks to keep them healthy

Tricks keep your dog healthy

February is Dog Training Education Month, and while we tend to think of training as walking nicely on a leash or not jumping when greeting people, training tricks can actually keep your dog healthy and active for a long time.

Regular exercise, including daily walks, is a vital component of our dogs’ overall health. It helps them to stay at (or reach) a healthy weight, reducing their risk of many serious diseases related to obesity, including osteoarthritis. And for dogs that have arthritis, or are at risk of developing it, exercise is an important part of managing pain and discomfort.

Exercise tricks help with health and mobility

Dr. Kristin Kirkby Shaw, DVM, MS, Ph.D., CCRT, DACVS, DACVSMR, is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and canine rehabilitation specialist, and she helps dog owners all over the world incorporate therapeutic exercises, sometimes seen as tricks, into their dog’s routine, in addition to regular walks.

Training your dog to do play bow, walk backward, and shake or give high-fives, are all examples of simple exercises that can strengthen their muscles, improve their mobility, and help them stay pain-free and active for years to come.

When training your dog to do these exercises, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

  • Make sure your dog has mastered the “basics” before adding in more challenging exercises
  • Start slow – don’t do too much too fast!
  • Focus on correct form
  • Watch for signs of your dog getting tired and stop before they lose good form
  • Progress the exercises gradually
  • Remember, dogs get sore and need rest days too!

In the below video, Dr. Kirkby Shaw demonstrates a simple, building block exercise that helps with range of motion.

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