A Couple of Lucky Boys and Fitness for Dogs

If there’s one thing everyone living in Fernie can agree on it’s that we’re all so lucky to call this place home! Especially if you’re an adopted dog like Gus and London, who hit the jackpot in finding humans who choose to live here.

Gus is a Husky and he’s a young retired sled dog from Alaska. His favourite activity is eating. Yes, for him we can call it an activity because he chooses food over anything else. You would understand if you ever had the pleasure of losing (every time) in a back and forth vocal argument trying to ask him, ‘Wanna go for a walk?’ before he’s had his meal - not gonna happen! After he chows down, he loves to hit up his favourite trails in the Mount Fernie Provincial Park and Island Lake Lodge areas.

London is a puppy-face mixed breed who was found as a stray in North Eastern BC. He’s like most dogs who loves to adventure as much as he loves eating, although he still has his own quirk. His favourite activity is swimming and it’s no wonder his local hot spot is Silver Spring Lake. He would fetch sticks all day, every day if he could, but only sticks. Don’t throw a ball or another toy or you’ll be going for a dip to get it yourself while he watches from shore.

Fernie is like dog heaven, it’s so easy to enjoy a variety of sports with so many multi-use trails, it’s certain dogs will be #FernieStreaking as much their humans this month, and throughout the year for that matter.

Your dog likely has a favourite sport, but don’t forget to switch it up as various activities meet different exercise needs. Providing variety helps to avoid repetitive movements, makes for less risk of injury and creates balance for a fit and healthy friend who will keep up with you.

Fitness for dogs can be broken down into two types - high or low-impact.

High-impact exercise are activities where your dog is moving faster than their own natural pace, or anytime your dog is trying to keep up with you. Running, biking, back-country or Nordic skiing, or uninterrupted fetching are all examples. Biking is particularly high-impact on the joints and running through deep powder snow requires a lot of energy and full range of motion. Fetching makes for very repetitive movements. These activities are excellent and necessary for maintaining good cardio and fitness, yet they go hand-in-hand with a higher risk of injury and require proper periods of rest in between.

Low-impact exercise make up any activity where your dog is moving freely at their own pace, like walking, hiking, snowshoeing and swimming. Hiking is the most balanced activity as it involves elevated and uneven terrain requiring a wide variety of movements all while maintaining cardio without excess speed. Swimming is excellent with it being very low-impact yet requiring wide range of motion, especially from the front end.

Remember that most low-impact sports for us humans are usually the opposite for our dogs. It’s also important to know that puppies are born without their joints being fully developed and should only be doing low-impact exercises until they reach full size, which can take up to three years for some large breed dogs. It’s well worth the wait.

Adult dogs can truly thrive and achieve health and longevity with a variety of exercises. In between days of intense activity, go ahead and enjoy a casual stroll along the dyke or in the forest with your best bud.