Working out with your dog is not only a great way for both of you to stay healthy, it can also be a great way to bond with your furry friend. Regular exercise and mental stimulation are both important for humans and dogs. You and your pet will get plenty of both if you start a workout routine with your pup.
Like any sort of exercise program, you’ll need to talk to a medical professional before you begin. In your case, you’ll need to speak with your doctor. In the case of your pet, have your veterinarian check them over to make sure it’s safe for them to be your new workout partner.
What To Do Before You Start Working Out With Your Dog
Exercise can deliver a lot of benefits – both mentally and physically – for you and your pet. It can help keep you both at a healthy weight, and it may also help to support your balance, strength, and coordination. There’s even evidence that people who work out with their pets are more likely to stick to their exercise routine.1
But as important as getting in a regular workout may be for both you and your pup, you have to do it safely. You and your pet should undergo physical examinations first. Your vet can help you develop a safe, effective workout plan for your dog based on their age, weight, and other factors.2
Also, when you’re ready to begin your routine, remember to start out gradually. Just like humans need a warm-up period before exercising, dogs need the same thing. If working out is new for both you and your pet, begin with a less strenuous exercise program. Gradually build up the intensity as both of your fitness levels increase.3
Building A Regular Exercise Routine With Your Furry Friend
It’s really important to slowly build into your exercise – for you and your pet. If you’re going to be walking with your dog, try to commit to 30 minutes a day five times a week if possible. If you can’t commit to that, try more frequent walks of a shorter duration – shoot for 15-minute walks twice a day for five days.4
The same principle applies to taking your pup out for a jog. Build up your distance and duration over time – don’t try to rush it. Also, make sure it’s not too hot for your dog to run with you, and have water handy for both of you. Use a harness rather than a collar so you don’t put too much pressure on your dog’s neck.5
A Brisk Walk Is Great For Both You And Your Beloved Pet
Walking is probably the convenient exercise you can do with your dog. You probably already walk your pup on a regular basis. Why not make it a human and dog workout? Keep up a brisk pace rather than going on the typical, leisurely stroll. Also, consider walking on different terrain, such as hills or trails. That will help both of you build your endurance.6
Be careful about walking your dog on concrete or asphalt on a hot day. Sizzling pavement can damage your dog’s paws. Check the surface first. If it’s too hot for you, it will be too hot for your pooch as well.
How About Trying Yoga With Your Canine Companion?
You might not think you can do yoga with your dog, but you can. There’s actually a name for it – dog yoga, or doga. You can, for example, use your dog for added weight when performing a side pose. Or, you can balance your pup on your legs for other poses. Dogs love yoga because of the time they get to spend with their dog parents. It might also help them feel calm and relaxed.7
How Much Exercise Is Enough For A Day With Your Workout Partner?
When you get your pup checked out prior to starting your workout routine, try to remember to ask your vet how much exercise they need. There is no “one size fits all” answer to the question. Different dogs have different requirements. Larger dogs might need a little more exercise than smaller dogs (or vice versa). Your vet will know your dog’s general health, and will be able to give you some specific recommendations.
In general, though, the amount of exercise a dog needs largely depends on their age and overall condition. If you have a young pup, for example, they may benefit from short bursts of activity. Since their bones are still developing, any sort of extended exercise regimen could cause problems. An overweight dog could overheat very easily, so you’ll need to develop a different workout plan than you would for a dog that’s a normal weight.8
Your vet will look for any potential underlying issues that could affect the amount of exercise your dog should get. If your pet has a thyroid problem, for example, that could affect their stamina. If your dog is experiencing any sort of pain, regular exercise could make it worse.9
Since a vet will know your dog just about as well as you do, they will make sure you have all the information you need to make the right choice.
Some Regular Exercises: Sprints, Swimming, And Agility Exercises
Provided you get the okay from your vet, there are a lot of great ways to get some exercise with your beautiful dog. As a pet parent, you obviously want to keep your pooch as healthy and happy as possible for as long as possible. Here are a few ways to do it.
Here’s a twist on the tried-and-true game of fetch. Throw a ball or a toy in your backyard, or at the dog park, if possible, like usual. Then, while your dog is running to fetch, run in the opposite direction. When your dog catches up to you after getting the ball, repeat the “sprint fetch” while running back to your original position.10
You could also try sprinting while throwing a Frisbee – but instead of one disc, use two. Throw one and tell your dog to drop the disc when he grabs it. Then throw the second disc and sprint to the first one.11
What better way is there to spend some time with your pup on a hot day than taking a dip in a swimming pool or lake? This is not only a great bonding opportunity, it’s also a great way to mix in some exercise. It works out the muscles without the pounding of jogging or a brisk walk. Just make sure your dog has a life preserver, and then rinse them off with a pet-safe shampoo when you’re done.12
You’ve probably watched a dog competition on television at one time or another that included agility drills. Well, agility drills are great exercise for dogs and humans alike.
While the dog works out by running through weave poles and climbing ramps, pet parents (handlers) have to run and turn very quickly to keep up with them.13
Fitness With Fido Can Be Fun
These are just a few of the ways you can start a fantastic exercise routine with a new, four-legged workout partner. Remember to talk to your vet (and your doctor) first to make sure it’s safe for both of you to begin a regimen. Then, have at it, and enjoy all the extra time with your best buddy.
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