You’re working hard to get healthy and stay that way, but have you thought about your dog’s health?
Obesity is an increasing problem among the dog population, just like it is with humans. Without exercise during the day, it can be hard for dogs to stay active. Over time, that can lead to boredom and frustration in dogs, which means a yard full of holes and a house full of chewed furniture. Dogs are meant to run, and we their human friends and pack members are meant to help them be the happiest dogs that they can be. So, for the good of your and your dog’s health, and the good of your relationship with your dog, you may want to start exercising with your dog. Whether it’s taking the dog for a run, or riding your bike with your dog, or going rollerblading, or even playing a good game of Ultimate Dog Frisbee, spending active time with your dog can improve your dog’s health and her behaviour.
Moreover, exercising with your dog will increase your own chances of success at sticking to a fitness routine. After all, who can say no to those eyes? Studies show that pet owners who work out with their dogs are more likely to get the recommended amount of exercise than people without pets.
However, if you choose to incorporate your furry best friend into your exercise routine, there are some things you should know. Canine expert Cesar Milan has some great tips, like easing into a program, training your dog to stay to one side of you, and avoiding the attachment of a leash to your wrist (you should always attach a leash to your belt or hands-free setup, instead.)
In the summer, there are special concerns to look out for, like dehydration. This is important for both of you. Bring extra water and treats for your dog when going out for a summer day run, and try to run or walk in the early morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler. If you take your dog to the beach, make sure to check her paws and fur for cuts or other damage — glass and other sharp objects like to hide in the sand. The same goes for woodland hikes or camping trips — burrs, thorns, and other irritants can hide in your dog’s fur.
Also, you should keep in mind your pet’s breed. Brachycephalic dogs — the ones with short or flat noses — will have a harder time breathing during aerobic exercise. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it, but when they start sounding like Darth Vader, it might be time to ease up. Ask your vet or your breeder for more information on what kind of exercise is best for your dog. Some breeds love to swim, and others love to herd. Just like you have favourite fitness activities, so will your dog.
But above all else, just get out there and walk. Walking is great exercise for the two of you. It will help build your bond, and get your heart pumping and your legs working. So pull out the leash and get excited for a W-A-L-K.