Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Whitehorse, Yukon
Swimming is my number #1 for low stress, but only builds a small amount of muscle. I still do it and kayaking with my dogs in life vests has provided quite exhaustive exercise even when it is hot out.
What I have done in the past is increase caloric intake as of day 1 of your routine. I would start to road work her (preferable on trails if at all possible) but start slow and build up.
Will she retrieve? If so, I will find a nice steep hill (that is safe for them to run up and down) and stand at the top of it. I will throw the ball down the hill for them to chase. Then I will go down the hill and throw the ball up. I have worked my dogs up to 45 minutes of this when they were in top condition. I am just coming off whelping and raising two litters of puppies, so we will start this again soon LOL
A few other core building exercises, include getting them to do some "crunches" I call them. Have your dog sit and then without standing up, just using their back muscles, go into a "sit pretty" then back down again. I do that 5 reps, 5 times.
Then you can get them to learn to balance on their hind legs to get a treat from your hand. They should hold themselves up and not use any part of your body to steady themselves.
Backpacking is GREAT for building muscle, and I use actual weight dumbbells, so I can track how much my dogs can carry and see if they increase throughout a certain time goal.
Jumping!! You need to make sure you work up to different jump heights and teach your dog how to approach and land correctly to avoid injury. What I have done in the past is set up a straight line course with a small jump, A-Frame (high almost a vertical wall), medium jump, 1 meter jump, small jump. Run the dog through that a few times a week and you will see some crazy rear, back and shoulder muscles in no time.
Hope this helps!