Team GB superstar embarks on a mission to keep dogs active for life

British 1000 metre record holder Laura Muir shares her top tips for keeping your dog active this summer.

In the absence of the Tokyo Olympic Games, YuMOVE has joined forces with Team GB athletes British 1500 metre record-holder and 2 x European champion Laura Muir, 3 x Paralympian and Rio 2016 silver medallist Lauren Steadman and 2 x European U23 champion Jemma Reekie for #YuMOVEWagletics – a campaign that promotes doggy health and exercise.

Team GB’s Laura Muir, who is also a fully qualified vet, shares her expert advice on diet, tips for first time dog owners, and keeping doggy exercise interesting.

The importance of a balanced diet

Feeding your dog a healthy balanced diet is critical. Many health issues can improve if a dog can lose a little bit of weight, particularly any issues with joints, mobility and stiffness. That’s why it’s so great to be part of the YuMOVE Wagletics campaign where we’re encouraging people to go out and do fun exercises with their dogs.

For first-time dog owners

It can be quite daunting when you’ve got this new animal in your life and home for the very first time. Don’t be frightened by that and be prepared to invest a lot of time and commitment. I would say try and spend as much time with your dog as you can; playing games, exercises.

It is also important to have friends and family that can help look after them if you’re returning to work. It is a big commitment but it is such a special one and so many people’s lives have changed from having a dog.

The importance of regular doggy exercise

It’s hugely important. One of the major health issues that we’re currently facing is pet obesity. The easiest way to overcome or fight this is by keeping your pet physically active.

Exercise is also brilliant for animal and human mental health – the stimulation of getting your dog out of the house and into new environments is beneficial for both pet and owner. It is so important for owners to go out and enjoy bonding with their dog.

For your dog to maintain an active and happy lifestyle, looking after your dog’s joints and mobility is essential. A combination of regular exercise, a healthy diet and a joint supplement all help to keep them moving for longer/active for life.

Some of Laura’s favourite doggy exercises

Ultimate Frisbee

This is a fun exercise that all dogs love. You will need a frisbee or a ball. You can make it more challenging for your dog by increasing the distance that you throw the frisbee, giving them a greater distance to run.

Fetch is also an exercise that can be adapted for older dogs who might be experiencing stiff joints. Simply replace the frisbee with a ball with nubs, that rolls slowly. Keep the game low-impact by rolling the ball to your dog or slowing down the ball to avoid your dog jumping, making fast turns or running too fast and falling.

The Weave

This exercise encourages better agility and mobility for your dog.

To complete The Weave at home, you will need to use markers. Cones are preferable, but these can easily be replaced with everyday objects that are commonly found in the home. Use items that are soft and won’t injure your dog while attempting the exercise – toilet rolls and tupperware boxes work well for this.

Once you have set-up your markers, practice The Weave by showing your dog a treat and then using the treat to direct your dog as you walk together through the markers, rewarding them when they complete the task. Be sure to use consistent verbal or hand commands when training so that your pooch will associate your commands with the actions you are asking of them. To make it more challenging, decrease the distance between your cones or makers and increase your speed.

If you have an older dog, then you can adapt this exercise for them by increasing the distance between your cones and markers and decreasing your speed.

The YuMOVE Wagletics campaign will run across YuMOVE’s Facebook and Instagram channels from 7th – 28th August. Lauren Steadman (@laurensteadmann), Laura Muir (@lmuiruns) and Jemma Rekkie (@jemmareekie) will also be posting content to their own Instagram channels. Each week, the nation will have the opportunity to learn a new exercise for their dogs and will be shown how to master it by our GB heroes.

 Exercises will be adapted for dogs of all ages. Routines will focus on mobility, strength, coordination and discipline and will include a doggy agility course, ultimate frisbee, hide & seek and obedience challenges. All of these playful and easy-to-do routines can be performed at home with minimal or no props.