Boundless energy and enthusiasm. Positive attitudes. Joyful companionship. Dogs have all the qualities of an amazing workout partner – and plenty of slobbery kisses to congratulate you at the end of the day. You take you pooch on regular walks, and reap the benefits of the fresh air, time in nature, and regular exercise. But dog walking is just the beginning. Discover how to involve your furry friend in more types of daily exercise, from cardio to strength training.
Benefits of Puppy Love
Being friends with a dog already has numerous positive effects on your overall wellbeing. Studies have shown that living with pets can improve your health:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Reduced risk of allergies and eczema
- Less stress and anxiety
- Social support
- Stronger immune system
- Encourage activity
Tips for Working Out with Your Dog
First, check with your vet to make sure that your dog’s breed is suited for exercise – and that he or she is healthy enough to work out. Be sure to let your vet know exactly what type of exercises you have planned, as well as the duration and intensity. Get the all-clear before you dive in.
Take it slow. Like all exercise programs, you want to ease into things--both for yourself and your dog! Keep a close eye on your friend during the activity and during the recovery phase. Dogs can’t tell you that they need a breather – so watch for drooping ears and tails, a reduced pace, and frequent stops to sniff. Be sure to carry plenty of water for both of you, and stop for a drink every 15 minutes or so.
Dog Exercises to Try
1. Jogging or Running – Picking up the pace is the obvious next step from dog-walking. New races for dogs and their owners are heralding the trend, including the Furry 5K in Seattle, the Dog Jog in Atlanta, and the Hungry Hound Hustle in Dallas. Work up to the 5K distance, and get your dog used to sharing the road by practicing on a trail with lots of people and other pets.
2. Kayaking & Surfing – With a little patience (and a life jacket for peace of mind), you can train your dog to sit on the front of your surfboard or kayak. For clumsier dogs, you can try a canoe. Most dogs are natural swimmers.
3. Agility Training – Many dog parks and kennels now feature agility courses, which are like obstacle courses for dogs. Agility training is a great idea if you want to teach your dog obedience skills at the same time that you get some exercise. They practice, you run – over and over and over. It’s great cardio!
4. Doga – Yes, it’s a thing: dog + yoga = doga! Check out instructional videos online, and find your balance with Fido. Be present in the moment is a piece of cake for a pooch! Downward dog will never be the same again.
5. Run in Circles – C'mon and chase him – you know it's his favorite. See how fast you get out of breath – and try to keep up!
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