Have you been keeping on track with your fitness goals for the year? It is well known that obesity is a major problem for the two-legged world, but did you know that it has also become a big problem in the four-legged world? Over 54% of dogs are overweight. Whether you and you pets need to lose weight, you might want to consider exercising with your pet. Getting fit is a great start for a healthy life style.
Most people can think of many ways they can exercise with their dogs. Walking is by far the perfect exercise. The benefits of walking are increased stamina, lower blood pressure, greater bone density, a stronger heart and lower risk of depression. There are many of the same benefits for dogs. Regular walking yields the same benefits for dogs and can also reduce nuisance behavior. Dogs that get more exercise are less likely chew, dig in areas of the house they are not supposed to or destroy items.
If walking doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can take to the trails. The ups, downs, twists and turns of hiking trails can be great exercise. Safety is first, so make sure you go with someone or at least let someone know where you are. Make sure you do not go when it is too hot. It is not safe to walk your dog, regardless of age, on trails when it is very hot. Dirt, sand and especially rocks can heat up to temperatures well over 100 degrees. Your dog’s paw pads can easily burn. Consider the wildlife. Some trails have a lot of wildlife that your dog might want to chase after. Owners of reactive dogs should choose their trail wisely. Also, be mindful of mother nature. You and your pup can experience everything from wet slippery slopes from a fresh rain that can cause a fall, burrs found on the ground that can embed in your dog’s skin, uneven terrain and many other things. You might need booties
Whether walking or hiking, you can incorporate exercises. Here are 10 you can try:
- Take a few steps, tell your dog to sit while your do a few squats, repeat.
- While your dog goes pee, stand on one leg to practice your balance.
- Lunge walk while your dog walks on the path.
- Dance or run around a tree while your dog tries to catch you.
- Walk backward on your walk (checking the ground first.)
- Alter your walk route to incorporate hills. Practice the ‘wait’ command while at lights or intersections.
- Ask your dog to ‘sit’ while you do leg lifts.
- Tell your dog to ‘sit,’ then ‘down’ while you do planks.
- Tell your dog to ‘lay down (or ‘down’’) while you do push ups or tricep dips on a bench.
If you are a water person, get your dog into the pool. Make sure your dog has a life jacket on so that as he plays, he will not swallow water from dipping his head under the while playing with toys. You can clip a long leash to your dog’s life vest and let your dog paddle around. Swim with your dog. See if she will follow you while you swim. Call your dog to the stairs of the pool to teach her how to get out of the pool if she needs to. Most dogs cannot get out of the side of the pool. Use the ‘come’ command.
If you have the space, try dock diving. Throw your dog’s toy into your pool or off the end of the dock (in safe water) so they will chase, jump in, retrieve and bring back their toy. If your dog doesn’t get the concept of the game, you might have to demonstrate by tossing the toy in and you jumping in after it to retrieve and bring it back. Again, a safety jacket should still be used.
For the adventurer, paddle boarding and kayaking are also perfectly fun exercises for you and your dog. Practice first on land and then the water. This could be challenging for dogs who are water lovers. They will need to be trained not to jump in every chance they get. This is the perfect time to work on the ‘sit,’ ‘stay/wait,’ ‘heal’ and come commands.