Welcome to the first step of your journey into puppy fitness. I know you’re anxious to begin so let’s just jump right into the first lesson!

A few things to take note of right away: please be sure to read the information included with your lessons. While I tried to get as much information into the video as possible, there’s still so much more to add. The tips and FYIs included in your will only help to propel you and your puppy forward in understanding and technique.

Okay- on your mark, get set, GO!

DISCLAIMER: Please check with your veterinarian before beginning any fitness program to determine if this type of activity is safe and appropriate for your puppy.

The Warm Up:

Just like we need to warm up before our workout, our pups need the same. It’s important to prime those muscles, wake them up, and let them know some physical activity is about to happen. Going into a fitness routine with ‘cold’ muscles and joints only opens the door for soreness and possible injury, so don’t skimp on the warm up. All you need is 3-5 minutes to take a quick walk around the yard or inside your house. Roll/toss one of your pup’s favorite toys around for an easy retrieval game. Anything that gets the body moving, without amping them up too much, is what you’re looking for. A warm up is NOT running around the yard like your puppy is in the Kentucky Derby.

Oh, and PS, for anyone who is taking their young puppy running on a regular basis: STOP IT RIGHT NOW! This is one of the worst activities for growing bones and sensitive joints. I know it gets them tired out and easier to deal with, but believe me, you will regret it if your best friend turns up lame with degenerative joint disease in a few years. Follow this program, work your puppy’s body AND mind, and you will soon see a great difference in how easy it is to control their energy levels.

Training VS/ Conditioning:

Training is the process of learning how to execute a movement. While we are in the training phase we will not be adding multiple(more than 3-4) repetitions to our workouts. Right now it’s more important for us to teach our puppies what we’re asking of them to make sure they are safe and confident.

Proprioception, or body awareness, isn’t something that happens over night. Coordination, balance, and motor skills all take time and activity to develop- they are not innate skills. And that’s exactly what the training phase is for.

The other day I decided to try a new workout routine. I watched the video a few times and thought to myself, “I can do this! PIECE OF CAKE.” Fast forward to 5 minutes into the workout and I looked like a crazy person with arms and legs flailing in 8 different directions. The point: it takes time to develop proper coordination! Even for us humans!

How long should you remain in the training phase? Well each puppy is different so, I’d say as long as it takes! We’ll talk more about that as we get into later lessons. 🙂 Right now, just concentrate on learning the exercises individually in short sessions, with 3 – 4 reps, less if your puppy isn’t really ‘getting it’.

For the next couple days all you need to do is introduce your puppy to the yoga board/pod or elevated surface you’re going to be using for this class (I’ll mostly refer to it as a board). No matter the age of your puppy or dog, start low: 2-4” tall, depending on your pup’s size. The goal is for them to easily step up without over extending joints. If your puppy has to invest a lot of effort into stepping up (ie: litterally climbing up, belly touching the surface, hind legs reaching) it’s too high. Even if you think you’re starting too low to be beneficial, you’re not. Puppies have a natural curiosity about their environment and will most likely begin exploring the board straight away. Encourage and praise their efforts. If your puppy is unsure, place a yummy treat or piece of kibble on the board to peak their interest. Be sure your elevated surface is non-skid and is placed somewhere puppy is able to realize traction. Slipping and sliding will not build confidence and only helps to discourage puppy from interacting with the board. And as always, keep it short and sweet! 3-5 minutes once or twice a day is perfect!