Why are some physical activities fun for some people, but not for others? I hate running, but I love lifting weights. Bike riding hurts my wrists, neck, and butt, but I love hiking and walking in the mountain. I hate spin classes but hate HIIT sessions.
There might be movements or activities that are generally thought by the greater population to be fun: going down a water slide, sledding or skiing down a hill or walking in a beautiful park with people you love. I think the majority of people would find these things to be fun.
In the same way, there are going to be some movements that some patients love and are motivated by, and others that rebel against the very idea of it! All creatures are built with an inherent risk-reward measurement system when it comes to movement & expending of energy. A rabbit is not going to aimlessly run around burning up essential calories just for fun, they stay hunkered down in the grass and if danger approaches in the form of a fox or another predator they will run like the wind burning up every calorie to prevent from being eaten.
The same can be true for prescribing movements or treatments that feel good or are enjoyable as part of a therapy plan versus prescribing your “routine exercises” or the underwater treadmill just because you have it and need to pay it off, or you don’t feel like doing anything else with them that day because you’re tired or have a headache. Rather we should be finding exercises that your patient and client can enjoy! Possibly, the dogs having a good time is a missing element that could take your therapeutic exercise sessions from good to phenomenal?!
When I enjoy something, I put my 150% into it. That makes a significant difference to how I perform, improve, and grow? Why would it be different for our animal patients? I don’t think it is..
We need to figure out what motivates them? What movements or activities do they already do and enjoy? If it’s a sporting dog, can you incorporate sporting activities into their rehab? If they know tricks, can they be incorporated? What is their “love language”, so to speak? Is it the attention from their owners, food, words of encouragement, owner involvement etc, then let’s use that to motivate them.
Make it about your patient! Not about you, the owner and your convenience or preferences. Try it and see what happens