Canine Fitness Equipment: Weights
To the surprise of many, dogs can lift weights as part of a well-rounded fitness program. Of course, I don’t mean barbells and dumbbells, pullup bars or kettlebells. Sorry, dogs just don’t have that opposable thumb that is so key for grabbing and holding heavy objects. However, there are a few options for those who want to add weights into their dog’s exercise mix.
When it comes to canine weight training, two types of equipment are available, the weighted vest and the ankle/leg weight.
Canine Weighted Vest
The canine weighted vest is comparable to the human weighted vest and can be used in many of the same ways. The idea is to place an additional load (weight), centered safely on the torso, to add resistance to any exercise, and this build strength and endurance. I use a weighted vest when running, stair and hill climbing, or when doing body weight moves like planks or pullups. Dogs can use their weighted vests to enhance the strength building benefit of basic movements like walking, running, balance and core work. The vest can turn any move into a strength move, so the options are virtually unlimited. The key is to not overload the dog such that their form or normal gait patterns break down. My dog Jack uses the K9FitVest, which provides gentle compression and the right load to keep all of the movements safe.
Canine Ankle Weights
Another type of weight that is available for dogs is the ankle weight. Like with the human ankle weight, the canine ankle weight is strapped around the dog’s ankle to add resistance. Ankle weights are often used in canine rehabilitation to force the dog to use the opposite limb. In other words, the weaker limb is unencumbered and the stronger or uninjured limb has the weight attached. This will force the dog to prioritize their weaker limb, because it is ‘easier’ for them to use it then the one with the weight.
Of course, ankle weights can be used on all limbs to build overall strength, just like we humans use ankle weights.
Dog ankle weights are very light, ranging from 1 or 2 ounces and no higher than a pound. Using weights that are too heavy for the dog will result in broken form and irregular gait, which is a recipe for injury.