I have recently completed my training course in Canine Resistance Training which is essentially a strength and fitness programme for dogs which focuses on weight pulling - otherwise known as drag work.
In my opinion - canine fitness is something which is hugely overlooked (by myself included) and can have such a massive positive impact on a dog’s general behaviour and wellbeing.
I have 3 brothers. I know that without access to a gym, at least 2 of them would go absolutely mad. For one of them, having access to his own home gym throughout lockdown was such a massive relief that I’m not quite sure how he would have coped without it.
I have started boxing training, for me this is so much fun and also gives me a bit of time in my week where I am solely focusing on myself and my health - I enjoy more dynamic exercise and so boxing and weightlifting is really exciting for me and keeps me motivated to show up. I had surgery on my foot the other week and so couldn’t go for a couple of weeks and this left me feeling unsatisfied and excited to get back.
My son has so much energy. He’s 6 - he does swimming, jiu-jitsu, boxing, football and athletics - and without these he would be much harder to live with!
My point is - dogs can also REALLY benefit from having a fitness regimen that requires them to dig deep and overcome. I’ll lay out some of the benefits here, but please get in touch if you want to know more (you can email me at email@example.com or reach out on social media).
Increased confidence: To not think you can do something, and then actually do it is one of the biggest confidence boosts for dogs and people alike. The acclimation process to drag work including the harness, the sounds, the feeling - when worked through properly can equip your dog with more skills than just drag work.
Resilience: As with point 1, resilience is an attribute which needs to be taught, encouraged and practiced. The idea of resistance work is that it is hard, but successful! There will be times where you need to take a step back, but that does not mean failure - your dog should ALWAYS feel like a winner.
Bonding: This is truly teamwork. You become your dog’s cheerleader. You become more in tune with them in an almost spiritual sense - you learn when and how to encourage them, to be able to recognise when they are physically or mentally fatigued and how you should respond, how to set them up for success and work together.
You become more invested in your dog’s physical health: As part of the programme there are warm ups, cool downs, massages and active recovery - you will get to know your dog’s body and invest in their health. CRT is a great support for supporting your dog physically in the same way that humans can use weight training as part of recovery and physical therapy. When doing CRT I will always encourage you to work with a physio and get signed off by a vet - but the programme should support your dog’s health when done properly.
You become more invested in your dog’s mental health: Just like my human examples above - there are ways in which CRT is biologically fulfilling for some dogs. Testing mental and physical stamina may feel a little uncomfortable - but when you recognised all of the different elements above and truly understand it - there is such a beauty in it.
If you’re intrigued or want to find out more then send me a message. I am going to be embarking on a CRT programme with my dog Roxy who has never done anything like this before and is a little nervy girl who has previously had TPLO surgery - so you can watch the process that we go through over on the Bull Breed Club app if you’re signed up.
I am waiting on her custom harness (essential for CRT) and will be getting her signed off by a vet and working alongside a physio.