Exercising with your dog is a great way to burn off some calories, spend some quality time with your pet, add to the monotonous routine of the daily walk and have some fun. Doing some exercise with your dog offers great benefits to both of you. A large percentage of people and pets in the United States are overweight and can benefit from a few minutes of stimulating exercise each day. Plus, when you and Fido exercise together, it improves blood flow, mental health and overall well-being for both of you, improves your bond and offers great opportunities for you and your dog to learn new skills and enjoy each other’s company.
1. Start Slowly
Once your vet says your pet is healthy enough for exercise if you and your dog aren’t used to strenuous workouts, start slowly. You can gradually increase your daily 10-minute walk to 20 or 30 minutes while you enjoy the great outdoors, increase your stamina and strengthen your muscles. Be careful. Some exercises are not recommended for very young puppies. Let your dog take the lead occasionally as they sniff around and slowly get used to the great outdoors. Pushing your dog too hard too fast can result in you and the dog having a serious injury.
2. Step Up To A Hike
Once you and your dog are in better condition, you can make your daily walk a little more rigorous by taking your dog on a hike in a nearby park. Adding some hills will strengthen the muscles, lungs and heart of you and your dog. On your days off, you can take more challenging hikes. Hiking in different areas lets you and your pooch experience new sights and smells together. Not only will the exercise improve the fitness level of you and your pet, but the experience will also help you relieve stress, feel happier, have more fun and form an even closer bond. If you have a dog which likes to have a job, such as a German Shepherd, you could give him or her a backpack and they can carry some lightweight items. Be sure to not weigh the dog down too much! Here are additional tips for dog backpacks.
3. Go For A Swim
Some dogs enjoy being in water once they get used to it. Plus, swimming is a low-impact activity that’s gentle on the joints of older dogs and people. Dogs love it during the hot summer months. To keep you and your furry friend safe, avoid swimming in areas with dangerous currents, steep embankments where its difficult for the dog to climb out or underwater branches that can snag their collars. Some adventurous souls regularly take their dog’s rafting, kayaking, surfing, boating and paddle boarding. It’s a good idea to put life jackets on the dogs in those instances.
4. Dog Sports
For high-energy dogs and their owners, there are several sports they can play together. They include Agility, Flyball, Dock Diving and Nosework. These sports involve people and their canine pals competing in a wide array of challenges where the dog must run, jump, catch, dive and search for hidden targets. Training for these activities involve dogs and their humans spending countless hours practising together to learn to toss and catch Frisbees and other items, coordinate their actions and learn new skills. These sports are lots of fun and excellent exercise for both people and dogs.
5. Simple Games
The exercises you do with your dog do not have to be very intense, require elaborate equipment or be competitive to be fun. Something as simple as going to the dog park near your home and running around with your dog playing fetch or catch with a ball, Frisbee or toy can be lots of fun and enough exercise to keep both of you fit and happy. Even a spirited game of tug-of-war with man’s best friend can build shoulder, neck, chest, jaw and upper body strength and be an enjoyable way to spend some time together.
6. Fun Indoor Exercise
If inclement weather forces you to stay indoors with your dog, there are a number of fun ways you can still exercise together. Running up a staircase and down again with your dog several times in succession can be a challenging indoor workout. It engages different muscles than normal walking or running and can provide significant physical benefits. If you don’t have a staircase you can use, you can put your dog on a treadmill. Once the dog gets comfortable with it, set it at a moderate speed and let the dog jog along for a few minutes to release its pent-up energy. You may have to hold the leash and give it treats initially until it gets accustomed to the treadmill.
7. Consider Trying Doga
Another unique way to exercise with your dog is by taking a yoga class designed for people and dogs. It’s called Doga and a growing number of dog owners nationwide are taking the classes, reading books on Doga or using DVDs to learn how to do it. Doga uses different types of stretches for relaxation, flexibility and improved overall health for people and their canine buddies. The instructor or dog owner gently guide the dog into the proper positions. Dogs love the attention they get in doga classes and doga workouts benefit both the owner and the dog.
Exercising Safely With Your Dog
Running around with your four-legged friend so you can enjoy the great outdoors, increase your stamina and strengthen your muscles is a great pastime. But trying to walk, hike or run with your dog while holding its leash can be challenging, especially if it gets excited and pulls a lot. Experts recommend using a lead designed to be worn around your waist while exercising with your dog. It gives you more control over your four-legged workout partner and leaves your hands free. This unique lead is inexpensive, easy to use and very effective. It can give you more freedom and make outings with your dog more enjoyable.
Protecting Your Dog While Exercising Outdoors
It’s important to protect your dog’s health and safety as you have fun exercising outdoors. There are some simple precautions you can take to monitor and maintain your pet’s well-being as you have fun exploring the outdoors together. They include:
A. Protecting thick-coated dogs from the uncomfortable and potentially dangerous summer heat is essential. Keeping their hair trimmed to a reasonable length helps them keep cool and reduces their risk of suffering heatstroke.
B. Make sure the roads on which your dog will be walking or running are not so hot the dog will be in pain and make its feet susceptible to getting burns and blisters. If the surface is so hot it burns when it touches the skin on the back of your fingers, it’s probably too hot for the feet of your dog. People who insist on having their dogs regularly exercising on hot roads should at least consider getting dog boots to protect their feet. Those boots also keep grass seeds from getting between the toes of the dog.
C. Check for ticks at the end of any outdoor exercise session. It’s also essential you make sure your dog’s flea and tick treatment is up to date if you regularly take your dog outdoors to play or for workouts. This is particularly true if your dog spends time in coastal areas. If your dog goes swimming a lot, consider giving it chewable tick protection. External treatments can easily wash off once the dog hits the water.
D. Always take water and a collapsible water bowl when you take your dog outdoors to walk, run, hike or play. Just like people, dogs get dehydrated after working out for several minutes. Be sure to take breaks, let them rest in the shade and give them some water. Even if you take your dog to a river or beach, take water and your collapsible water bowl with you. This will make sure they don’t get thirsty and resort to drinking dirty or salty water which can make them sick.
Protect Your Exercise Buddy
Dogs are the ideal exercise buddies. They are full of energy and always excited to go. Regularly taking them outside to run and play is a great way to keep them healthy and have fun bonding with them. Varying the activities and exercise you do together will make your workouts more fun. With the right equipment, adequate water and following a few basic guidelines, spending time exercising with your dog daily can be safe, beneficial and lots of fun.