You know it’s good for you. You know that exercise can give you energy, help you maintain a healthy weight, keep your muscles and joints flexible, help you live longer, and above all, make you feel better.
If you and your dog are getting a little more “pooch”, you’re not getting enough exercise–but neither are they. Simply walking the dog more often than only once a day can add a significant calorie debt to your balance sheet. Better yet, fit dogs, like people, tend to have fewer reasons to go to the doctor, less chance of cancers, and less risk of joint ailments.
Not only can exercise extend your furry friends’ lives; it may also expend some of their nervous energy and make them a little less likely to chew on the living room drapes.
The thing is, nobody’s filled pets in on all of these benefits of exercise! Without someone to lead the way, they’re not going to run laps or do leg lifts in their spare time.
So as a wonderful pet parent, part of your job is ensuring all your family members get safe, enjoyable exercise on a regular basis–whether they’re children, dogs, cats or ferrets! All pets need some physical activity to live a happy, healthy life.
Different dogs need different amounts of exercise, so you’ll want to talk to your veterinarian before starting your pet’s workout program. With a proper assessment, you can embark on an exercise program that won’t seem like work at all–to your best friend, its play.
Getting in shape is a win-win for everyone, not just in terms of losing weight, but making a commitment to do exercise together
DOGS – THEY GET US MOVING!
You don’t want to hit the ground running with your pooch, though. Just as with any animal–or person–you’ll want a veterinary assessment before you start your dog’s fitness routine. With this assessment, you can discuss plans and ensure your dog has a clean bill of health.
Just remember, like people who aren’t used to exercise, dogs should start off slow. And as we say at K9 Fit Club, a little bit of something is better than a whole bunch of nothing!
Moderately paced walking and swimming are a good way to start—both people and pooch athletes build their cardiovascular and muscle strength without putting undue stress on their joints.
A 15-minute walk in the morning and evening, combined with an appropriate diet, can be meaningful. As you and your pet get stronger, you can graduate to longer walks on the weekend, hiking, biking, and even running.
Once he’s adapted to the exercise, you and your dog can run and walk to your heart’s content, if you take a few precautions.
- Keep a close eye on your dog: watch for any unusual signs of fatigue or trouble breathing.
- If your pup wants to stop, let him.
- Dogs that overdo it can suffer strained tendons or ligaments or other orthopedic problems.
- Don’t expect your fuzzy buddy to be a weekend warrior, even if you only get exercise on the weekends yourself.
- After a long week without exercise, your dog may be ready to get out and burn off energy. But because of their enthusiasm, many of the popular breeds, such as Labrador and golden retrievers, will overdo it.
- Safety first—leashes are a plus or a must when you run.
Even the best-trained dogs can run into the path of a car or a territorial animal. And if you have to run when it’s dark out, put reflectors on your dog’s collar as well as on your clothes. Concrete and asphalt are tough on the paws, especially on hot days. Try to run on dirt paths or grass as much as possible. Gravel, cinders, and road salt can also irritate paws.
Take it easy in extreme weather. If it’s freezing cold or hot and steamy out, either keep your run short or play a little indoor fetch instead. The more active your dog is, the more water he’ll need. Make sure he has plenty of fresh water before and after your run. If you’re going for a long run, take some water along for him.
If your dog is getting bored with running or walking, take heart: there are other ways to get him the exercise he needs. A 15-minute game of fetch makes for a good workout. Supervised play with other dogs is a good option too. Tug-of-war is not a good game because it can damage his teeth and may increase aggressive behavior.
If you have the time and your dog has the inclination, you could even try running him through some agility obstacle courses, which incorporate a range of activities.
Or, by all means, if there is one in your area, you can visit K9 Fit Club!