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The Benefits of a Dog Weight Vest

The Benefits of a Dog Weight Vest

Improve Muscle Performance, Reduce Stress, Bad Behavior and Improve Cardiovascular Health in your Dog with A Weighted Dog Vest.

It is easy to think of weight lifting as just a pure muscle building exercise, but ask anybody lifting in the gym and they will likely tell you it is more than that. Exercise is great for developing muscle of course, but also increased cardiovascular fitness, reduces stress and anxiety and can be a great way to ‘let off steam’.

All of these benefits are echoed in our canine companions. Build for exercise and a hard life pre-domestication, many breeds still retain the characteristics of their wolf-ancestors; namely a high demand for physical activity and a restless disposition. In some dogs this can result in a channelling of pent up emotion into aggressive or dominant behaviour.

Using a weight vest can support dogs both physically and in temperament when used correctly.

For Muscle Fitness

Dogs may require more exercise for a number of reasons, the main one being a natural predisposition to heavy and intense exercise. In breeds which need this kind of stimulation, it can be difficult to provide, especially when time or facilities are limited.

Weight vests allow your dog to push harder, building natural muscle and tone. Their close fit means that they do not throw your dog off balance, and can actually help with increasing stability and agility as well as pure strength. 

Vests can be also used to assist building muscle after time away from exercise, perhaps due to owners being unable physically, bad weather or dogs being kenneled. Muscle building after injury can also be supported by use of a weight vest. Use to regain muscle after injury however, or in older dogs with weaker muscle tone, should be done in conjunction with a veterinary surgeon or trained nurse.

For Stress Relief

Exercise, in dogs as in people, produces endorphins and many dogs love it. Some dogs have a huge requirement for exercise and without it can get very stressed or agitated. This agitation can manifest as both physical and mental signs and can be very difficult for owners to manage.

Getting appropriate exercise is critical for any dog. Exercise helps with confidence with other dogs and people, improves brain function, normalises mood and can also be a great bonding exercise between owner and dog. All of this combined is a great way to bring down the high mood of an anxious animal.

Adding weight vests to exercise increases the physical demand and therefore the positive feedback associated with exercise, and can be a great way to boost the stress relieving result for your dog.

For Bad Behaviour

Stress and unwanted behaviours, such as destructive tendencies or aggression, can often go hand-in-hand.  Overactive and under-stimulated dogs can be repeat offenders; common signs are chewing furniture, excessively vocalising and unruly behaviour.  Dogs who are aggressive are also often under-stimulated or under high stress.

Exercise is a great way to tire out a dog who needs a high level of input, and using a weight vest can allow dogs who normally don’t reach their threshold to tire. Dogs who have had a good bout of exercise and are sleepy are much less likely to exhibit problem behaviours, and are easier to work with in terms of temperament and training.

For Cardiovascular Health

For those who just don’t have the time to walk their dog as much as they might need every day, weight vests are also a great way to boost the cardiovascular output from a shorter walk. Although not a replacement for adequate exercise, weight vests are a simple solution to the fact that life sometimes gets in the way.

Carrying increased weight also puts more strain on the cardiovascular system and can encourage improved function, as well as helping combat obesity. In one study dogs lost four times as much weight when a weighted belt was introduced, compared to dogs that did not wear one.

Care

Weight vests should not be used in dogs under two years old, as they are still developing and not yet ready for the extra stress on muscles and joints.

All dogs need protection from carrying too much weight as this can be damaging. Do not put more than 10-20% of your dog’s weight on a weight vest.

Care should also be taken in hot weather, as dogs can easily overheat, especially during exercise. Make sure to provide water, rest and shade for your dog in hot weather, and ideally exercise in the early morning or in the evening.

Conclusion

Weight vests, used correctly, have a wide range of positive health impacts. They can help with muscle gain, but also impact heart health and even mood. In an ever more demanding way of life, weight vests can help both dogs and their owners cohabit happily and healthily, and can be a key piece of equipment in the arsenal of any serious dog walker. 

Looking for a high quality weight vest for dogs? Check out the XDOG Weight Vest.

References

Physiol Behav. 2014 Jun 22;133:223-9. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.05.046. Epub 2014 Jun 4. Behavioural and physiological indicators of shelter dogs' welfare: reflections on the no-kill policy on free-ranging dogs in Italy revisited on the basis of 15 years of implementation. Cafazzo S1Maragliano L2Bonanni R3Scholl F4Guarducci M4Scarcella R5Di Paolo M4Pontier D6Lai O4Carlevaro F5Bucci E4Cerini N5Carlevaro L5Alfieri L4Fantini C2Natoli E7.

Menor-Campos, DJ., Molleda-Carbonell, JM., López-Rodríguez, R. (2011) Effects of exercise and human contact on animal welfare in a dog shelter. Veterinary Record 169, 388.

Belpedio, C, Buffington, L Clusman, S Prete, F Sadler, A, Whittemore, L and Mungre,S 2010, Effect of Multidog Play Groups on Cortisol Levels and Behaviour of Dogs,

Reactive Dogs and Exercise: Can modifying the daily exercise regime improve behaviour? Linda Cooper