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Discussion Starter #1
I would like to build up Bianca's muscle tone and stamina. I was just wondering if anyone has any tips on the type of exercise that will help, or programs for doing this slowly? I am not sure the best ways to build muscle. She seems to have somewhat poor muscle tone, and I would like to do more strenuous activities with her (like agility, biking, etc) but I want to build up her muscle and endurance first so she doesn't hurt herself by jumping in too fast.
I am not sure what we should do for this, or how I should go about creating a schedule? We usually just do long walks right now, but as it is getting warmer I'd like to start biking with her...
 

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Swimming! I could see a HUGE difference in muscle tone after just the first trip or two to the river/pond each spring with my swimmers. Low impact and fast results.
 

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Swimming is great, but not usually realistic. Go ahead and start biking, just keep it fairly slow and short at first then gradually speed it up and go farther, keeping an eye on how she's doing. If you have to encourage or force her to keep up, you need to slow down.
 

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Max loves to run after the 4 wheeler but we don't do much of that in the winter. I do agree with taking it slow. We do hike a lot too
 

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If you normally do at least one long walk a day, get a backpack for your dog and gradually increase the weight your dog carries. Once worked up to it, a dog can carry up to 30% of its body weight safely, and it definitely helps build muscle and stamina.
 

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One walk seems inadequete.
I do a long run 5-7 miles, in the morning, a short walk in the afternoon and a longer walk or ball playing session in the evenning.

Whatever your method remember to build up slowly.
 

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Do you want to build lean muscle mass or bulk her up?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Originally Posted By: jarnDo you want to build lean muscle mass or bulk her up?
A little of both... I don't want her to be so bulky that it interferes with her agility but I would like to see some bulk (I want to see her muscles) as well as lean muscle.

I don't often have time for multiple walks on days when I have work/class but I usually do one long walk, 2-4 miles (or more in warmer weather). If I have more time I also will go on a bike ride but so far I only did that once with Bianca... Then some days we have agility class or we go hiking with her wearing her backpack.

I did take her for one long walk with her backpack and some weight provided by the water bladders in the pack, but I was not sure how much weight would be okay to start her with in a pack when she hasn't done it before.

Yeah we don't have any real hills here in Chicago! There are some parks which have small "landfill" hills in my area though.

I did get Bianca a dog park permit, so we could go to the dog beach but I am not sure if she would get along with the other dogs there so I am a little leery of trying that. Also the dog beach is shallow until you go pretty far out, so it is more running in the water than swimming unless you have a very small dog or if you wade way out with them to get them in the deeper water. I thought about taking her to this center that has a dog swimming pool, you can get 30 min. pool sessions for your dog but I am not sure if I can justify the cost of that right now. The same place also has treadmill sessions...
 

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Swimming is the best way to build muscle, and if you have a facility near you, I would use it!
She has been checked by your vet to make sure there isn't an underlying cause to her thinness?
The underwater treadmill is a fantastic tool, and I always recommend it to mt surgery patients who need to rebuild muscle.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yep, she was checked by the vet and she had bloodwork and fecal done. She's gained some weight since I got her but she still needs to gain muscle.

I did the underwater treadmill with my previous two dogs, for rehabilitation and low-impact exercise... My terrier did sessions for several years after FHO surgery and my Golden to help with her spondylosis...
The facility I mentioned in my previous response doesn't do underwater treadmill though-- they have a dog swimming pool and also have a (separate, non-water) treadmill. The underwater treadmill I did with my previous dogs was at a holistic vet. The dog swimming pool is at an activity center (daycare/kennel/training place.)
 

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Quote:I did take her for one long walk with her backpack and some weight provided by the water bladders in the pack, but I was not sure how much weight would be okay to start her with in a pack when she hasn't done it before.
How old is your GSD? If she is at least 18 months old, you start with 5% of her body weight (empty weight of the pack included) and work up to no more than 30% of her body weight from there.

If you go to the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America's website, they have a training guide to work a dog up to carrying 30% of their body weight in the "activities" section.
 

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Mid-long running, hiking, biking, and swimming will be great for building lean muscle tone.

I would do weight stuff (the pack as suggested) for bulk. Sprints as well will build more fastwitch muscle fiber than slowtwitch.

Though I would bet you'll see a difference even from the more lean activities.

And, of course, age appropriate for her joints etc
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for the tips! She is turning 5 years tomorrow.

Do you have any tips on a schedule to do the exercises? Length of time or distance to start with and how often we should do them? Should I rest her a day in between if we do something strenuous like running with the bike?
 

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this is what i do...or at least these are my ways to build nice muscle and endurance..

run hills
frisbee
hang a toy (tug rope of some sort) just high enough to where her back feet barely touch and let her go to town (i would only let her do it a couple times a week
free off leash walks are great too
 

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What you start with depends on her current conditioning.

How long are her current walks? Do you ever run with her? If you're starting out, and you're not a runner, you could do what some people do when they're just starting out running and building stamina - run for 1 minute, 2 minutes, than walk 1 minute, repeat. Go for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and just build up the amount of time running until you're running steadily or running 10 minutes, 1 minute walk. Then start adding on 10 minutes to your runs. Or something like that. You can also use sites like gmaps-pedometer.com to train by distance rather than time and map out routes.

If you want, I can draw up a more detailed schedule of running with a goal distance in mind. It all depends where you're starting from. As long as you build slowly, they can go any distance. Luc has completed continuous 60+k hikes with me and been fresh at the end and can run 30+k. Obviously he was built up to that overtime though!

I'd go as well with how tired she is - it's better to build up slowly than to go to hard and injure something.

I would do the pack on walks or hikes as Chris said.

JMO though.
 
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