Dog Pilates: Everything you need to know
Pilates is a fantastic form of exercise that can help strengthen our muscles all over our body, improve flexibility and alleviate stress. But did you know that dogs can benefit from it too? It helps to balance and strengthen their body and it’s a great activity for you to enjoy together.
What is Dog Pilates?
As you might imagine Pilates for dogs is a little different to Pilates for humans. After all they aren’t able to move their bodies in the same way as us and they might struggle to use a Pilates band or reformer!
Instead, Pilates for dogs focuses on working the muscles and joints, which helps to encourage blood flow which then strengthens their tendons and ligaments. A lot of the movements are based around getting your dog to balance, and will use equipment like balance balls and inflatables.
How does balancing benefit my dog?
When you ask your dog to sit on a stable surface they are able to do so easily as they are helped by gravity and momentum. If you introduce equipment that is unstable, like wobble boards and stability peanuts and ask them to do the same thing, they will automatically have to engage their core to prevent themselves from wobbling around.
As they try to discover how to remain stable they are continually strengthening their back, abdomen, back and back legs. Over time this can help to stablise shoulder joints, reduce stress on the dog’s body, and prevent injury.
How do you get started with Dog Pilates?
Getting started is really simple as you don’t need a huge amount of space and the equipment required is minimal. There are lots of different balance discs, pads and boards available online so you and your pooch will be spoilt for choice.
It’s important to pick the right size equipment for your dog as you don’t want them to arch their back. For higher pieces of equipment you may also want to consider using a harness to help keep your dog secure.
Once you have the equipment here are some things you could try:
- Getting them to place all their paws on the balance equipment
- Placing only their back or front paws on the balance equipment
- Placing a front paw on the balance equipment while the other gives you a high five
- Getting a small and a large balance pad, placing the small one in front and asking your dog to place their front paws on the small pad while the back paws are on the larger one
Keep sessions to no more than five minutes once or twice a day and remember to use treats and toys to make it fun for you both.
We would also recommend chatting to your vet beforehand to make sure this type of exercise will be suitable for your dog.
Which dog breeds can do Dog Pilates?
One of the great things about this form of doggy exercise is that breeds of all shapes and sizes are able to get involved. Of course, like humans dogs will often have a preference when it comes to the ways that they like to get moving, so if it doesn’t seem like your dog is enjoying it, it’s probably best not to force them.
What age should my dog start Dog Pilates?
Most dogs should not start Dog Pilates until they are fully grown. For most pups this will be between one to two years of age. In general some larger dogs will take longer to reach maturity and so shouldn’t participate in Dog Pilates until a little later.
Is it suitable for an older dog?
Absolutely yes! In fact this can be a great low impact form of exercise for older dogs or those who may have health conditions. While they may no longer be able to play fetch for hours or go on long walks, this can be a fantastic way to get their blood flowing and can even reduce swelling in their joints. Of course every dog is different so make sure to chat things through with your vet first.
Whether you’re playing with Pilates or discovering the great outdoors, make sure to use a PitPat dog activity monitor to keep track of all your fun activities. PitPat gives you an exercise goal tailored to your dog’s breed, weight and age so you can make sure you are always getting the balance just right for your happy, healthy dog.