Exercise for You and Your Dog: Working Out with Dogs
Exercise is good for you and your dog too. So why aren't you working out together? I'm not talking about taking your dog to the gym, although you may want to check out Doga (yoga for dogs). I'm talking about getting outside and enjoying some fresh air. After all, if you're cooped up in an office all day, chances are your pooch is stuck at home and cooped up too. Dogs that don't get enough exercise and activity can quickly develop behavioral problems. Come to think of it, it can make people cranky too. You could both use the exercise.
Walking the Dog – Is it enough?
If you walk your dog every day, that's fantastic. If you have a very large or very small dog, that can be plenty of exercise and stimulation. However, if you have a sporting dog, working breed or a mix with either, walking is great, but not enough. Walking is a wonderful warm up for a high-energy dog, but they need more exercise. If you are a high-energy person, a walk may not be enough for you either.
Hiking is a great way to get out and give your active dog a chance to really run. It will also give you an opportunity to really work your muscles on some harder walks. Not all areas allow dogs to be off leash or even to come along though, so make sure you check out the rules before you bring along Rover. Dogs are not allowed at National Parks for instance. It is also very important that you and your dog understand the etiquette of being out on the trail. You should always clean up after your dog when you are hiking and shouldn't let your dog off leash if you don't have a strong recall. If you know the rules and trust your dog, it can be a great workout. In fact, if your dog is fit and healthy he could even carry a third of his weight in a backpack with water or snacks.
Work Your Breed
If you have a working breed of dog, investigate some of the ways you can bring out your dog's natural tendencies and get a work out of your own. If you have a dog that would naturally pull, like a sled dog, why not use that energy for a workout. Check out carting, rollerblading, skating, sledding or biking with your dog and teaching him to work in a pulling harness. Hunting dogs would love a hike. If it's summer and you've got a Labrador, how about a swim? Just keep in mind that not all breeds are cut out for a high intensity workout. Pugs and other dogs with flatter faces will quickly have trouble breathing for example.
Why not some games in the yard or at the dog park? This way you can do some running and get some exercise as well. Don't let your dog do all the work. If you're playing fetch, play a little tag too. Frisbee doesn't need to be an exercise only for the dog. Run with your dog and work up a sweat. How about a race? Your dog will appreciate the fun time and you'll burn some calories.
If you run, walk or play with your dog, make sure that you are both prepared. Don't overdo it. If your dog needs to lose weight, talk to your vet. Make sure that your dog is fit enough to do a workout with you. Also make sure you always have enough water. Your dog should be offered a drink every 20 minutes in a workout and keep an eye out for overheating. Remember that your furry friend can't sweat and may get hotter faster. Also, dogs can take colder weather than people, but if it's extra cold or very wet make sure dog has the appropriate attire. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and get some exercise!