My Sully boy has a condition. It is something that is known in most scientific circles as “lazy playeritis”. It is not a serious or life threatening condition, he just expends the very least amount of energy required during play time!
He’s always been this way. While playing tug with him, he will often just stand there leaning away from me, kind of pulling, but really not. When chasing a ball he will take 3 steps then decide it’s too much work to go get it. When playing with the other dogs he employs his Jiu-Jitsu training and pulls guard(aka rolls onto his back).
I had to come to terms with the fact that, although we run about 1.5 to 2 miles 5 times a week, my boy had become overweight. He wasn’t obese by any stretch of the imagination, but it was easy to see that he wasn’t in good shape.
This was unacceptable to me. Having healthy, fit dogs is something that I pride myself on. So I laid down a challenge for myself and for Sully. In 6 months time(we just passed the one month mark) I wanted him to be down to 85lbs(currently at 94) and to be nothing but muscle!
But how do you work out a dog that does his best to exert the least amount of energy he can?? You be uber creative and find out what really gets their juices flowing!
Sully has always loved his rope-on-a-spring, and he loves to pull on a tug toy. I was cleaning the yard recently and realized I had about 30 ft of busted hose waiting to be thrown out. I thought to myself, “self, why dont you cut 10ft of that off and tie it to his rope toy”. So that’s what I did. I figured I could get him to start pulling further away from me by letting the hose slip through my hands as we were playing, which would be like his heavy lifting if he were a gym rat.
That idea worked really well, especially if I stand perpendicular to him with the hose wrapped around a tree. Apparently Sully does not like losing a tug of war match to a gymnosperm! The hose rope also doubles as a psuedo flirt pole as well. Interestingly enough, he puts next to no effort in to chasing the other flirt poles I have made. He actually cheats and waits til he can cut off the lure when the other dogs are chasing it. But this hose rope he goes after like it stole his lunch money!
I’m always trying to come up with new contraptions and ways to play to keep him having fun.
The most recent game we invented is “stay-attack”(patent pending :P). It’s a simple game where Sully sits and stays at one end of the yard while I walk to the other with his rope. I then give him the “Sully get your rope!!!!!!!” and he comes full bore across the yard to show his rope who is boss. I particularly like this game because he really gives me a full out sprint at full exertion, which is what is necessary to build muscle.
I’ve also made an attachment for my spring out of a tennis ball that he really likes. It’s good for him because he likes to cheat when the rope is on the spring. He will just stand there until the rope comes to him. But the tennis ball behaves erratically so he can’t do that. It’s good because he pivots both directions, as well as jumping to try to catch the ball, which strengthens his tendons and therefore prevents injuries later on..
We are also still running 5 days a week. I have switched up how we run though. The first mile, we do about a 9 1/2 minute pace as a warm up of sorts. The second mile we sprint for 75-100 yds and walk for 50yds until we get home.
So moral of the story: If you have a dog that actively trys to do the least amount possible, and you suspect that he/she is on the road to becoming a porker, be creative and find ways to exercise that your pup loves.
The most important thing is that the dog be having a blast while exercising. If they aren’t, then the excitement will fade and they will go back to being a couch potato. When it comes to getting lazy dogs to play hard and exercise, the old adage “Don’t try to fit a square block in a round hole” is a good mantra to live by!
Check back soon for more updates on Sully’s get fit challenge!