Activities For Firefighters With Dogs

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Introduction

Have you ever heard of the phrase, "first one in, last one out?" It refers to people who are the first to arrive and the last ones to leave - FILO's for short. When it comes to containing and preventing the spread of fires, Firefighters are the FILO's of all first responders; these brave men and women will work tirelessly to fight against the elements, trying to save as many lives and as much property as they can in the process. Fighting fires requires a person to be pretty fit and versatile. Incidentally, many of the activities that can whip a person into firefighting shape can also be completed with a dog!

Canine Ride Along

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Seat belts
Class A or Class B Driving License
Activity description
The image of a Dalmatian riding alongside a crew of Firefighters has become ingrained within the collective subconscious of our society thanks to numerous TV shows, movies, video games and books that continue to propagate the concept. It's not an entirely off-base concept, mind you - Dalmatians actually have a very storied and intricate connection with the Firefighters of old, serving as guard dogs for Firefighters and their equipment back when most departments relied on volunteers to fill their ranks. In the end, however, dogs just don't accompany Firefighters during high stakes missions as they used to. If you're able to gain access to a fire engine on a slow day at work, however, you and your dog can ride along together just like canines did with Firefighters of old.
Step
1
Buckle up
Start things off by checking all of the seat belts that'll be used during the ride along; tug on them to make sure that they're still sturdy, then check to see that they don't constrict your dog too much to avoid that unpleasant chafing sensation that can happen when a really small belt is forced around a person. You'll be doing everyone else at your station a big favor by checking the belts, so that's a plus as well.
Step
2
Hitching a ride
If you're unable to commandeer an engine to personally drive, you can always see about riding shotgun with your dog while another Firefighter drives. It's best to try this on slower days or on days where a community event has already been scheduled as you likely won't get the OK to bring your dog along for more serious situations.
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Stair Workouts

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Any Day
Cheap
Hard
30 - 45 min
Items needed
Leash
waste bags
Water
Activity description
Nothing is certain in the life of a Firefighter except death, taxes, and having to run up and down a lot of stairs. Not only that, but Firefighters have to run up and down flights of stairs while wearing and carrying around very heavy pieces of equipment. It'll be much easier to get in and out of a burning building on the brink of bowling over if you've spent enough time training with stairs - strengthening your legs, lungs, and heart in the process. Your dog can get in on the fun as well, allowing both of you to motivate each other. An excellent workout on the cheap, you don't really have to worry about weather conditions either, as you and your dog can complete this activity indoors if need be.
Step
1
Baby steps
Starting off, you and your dog should work with shorter flights of stairs as opposed to immediately trying to jog all the way up and down a stadium or anything crazy like that - the crazy stuff comes later, after the leg muscles of both you and your dog really start to develop. You'll basically need to build monster legs to handle large and winding stairs. Jogging up and down smaller stairs is meant to help break you and your dog into this activity.
Step
2
One step forward
We're not quite at the crazy stuff yet but rest assured that it's on the horizon. For now, stick to jogging up and down medium length flights of stairs; parks, beaches, and hiking trails tend to have the sort of steps that will help you graduate from only being able to work with small staircases to being ready for the more intense workouts.
Step
3
Step up your game
At long last, we've arrived at the crazy stuff - giant bleachers, stadium staircases, and the works. By now, you and your dog will have reached full blown Quad-zilla status, meaning that both of your lower bodies will be able to handle the rigors of running up and down hundreds of steps in one go. Pacing is really important here, as you won't want to move so quickly that you'll lose your balance but you also will want to move quickly enough to really break a sweat.
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Grip Strength Training

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
25 min
Items needed
Buckets, Pails, and Duffel Bags
Sand Bags
Fire Hose
Activity description
In the line of fire, the grip strength of a Firefighter is one of those key factors that can spell the difference between success or failure; picking up and pulling victims, carrying heavy equipment, climbing up and down precarious terrain - strong and reliable grip strength is needed in all of those scenarios and more. While dogs don't have hands, they are reliant on the grips of their jaws in the same way that humans are reliant on our hands. Your hands and your dog's jaws can beĀ strengthened using similar techniques, meaning that you and your pet can workout together after you spent about a little cash purchasing the equipment you'll need. You can also likely use some of the equipment at your station on a slow day, cutting costs down considerably.
Step
1
Tug of war
If you can get a clean towel or a sturdy piece of rope, you and your pet can spend some time holding a friendly tug of war match. This activity can help a dog develop their jaw strength as well as work on their "tugging things with my bare teeth" form. You definitely don't want to pull too hard or too aggressively, as the idea is to keep things fun and noncompetitive.
Step
2
Sand bag carrying
Place a small sand bag on your dog's back as if it were a saddle, grab as many as you can carry over your shoulders, and then try going for a short walk around your station. Truth be told, you probably won't make the full distance the first time you try this activity. That's actually okay though, as you and your dog are meant to get a little further with each successive attempt.
Step
3
Bucket carrying
Depending on what you fill it with, a bucket or pail will either be very lightweight and easy to carry or heavier than a ton of bricks and will make you think your arms are in jeopardy of falling off. Don't fill the bucket that you intend to let your dog use with too much weight (you actually might want to just fill it up about a quarter of the way with water), but feel free to pack in as much mass as you feel comfortable with, in terms of your own bucket.
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More Fun Ideas...

Canine Sleepover

Considering the fact that your station is your home away from home as a Firefighter, it may be possible to schedule a canine sleepover if your squadmates also have dogs and are willing to give this zany idea a shot. You guys can all introduce your pets to each other and play dog soccer together, among other things.

Community Events

Chances are your department has likely scheduled a number of community events that you and your fellow Firefighters will have to engage in very soon. When appropriate, consider bringing your dog along with you to help liven things up. Firedogs tend to be welcome during meetups with schoolchildren and the elderly, so ask your boss if your pooch can tag along when the time is right.

Conclusion

As temperatures and the number of annual wildfires continue to rise, the workload of firefighters will become greater in turn. So if you happen to be a firefighter, we'd like to thank you for the hard work that you and your comrades put into fighting and preventing fire based catastrophes. Hopefully, you'll consider trying at least a few of the activities we've discussed earlier with your dog as we feel that you and your pet will only grow closer from working and playing together. Firefighters may be the FILO's of emergency services, but they don't have to go it alone; at work, you'll have your fellow firemen and firewomen backing you up and at home, your dog will always have your back.