Lifestyle

Get Fit with Your Dog

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Regular exercise provides a way to release energy, and stay in shape. But instead of just going out to the gym, why not try to get fit with your dog? There are many different exercises and workouts to try, and all of them can include your dog.

Health Benefits Of Working Out With Your Dog 

Did you know that there are currently over 55% of dogs that are considered overweight or obese? Just like humans, dogs need regular exercise and a nutritious diet in order to stay healthy. 

There are many health benefits of working out with your dog. Some of those benefits include: 

  • Healthy and stable weight 
  • Joint health 
  • Regular digestive tract
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness 
  • Lower blood pressure 
  • Stronger muscles 
  • Decreased stress

And those benefits are for both humans and their pets. Not only are many of the benefits physical, but there are also environmental and social benefits as well. 

The more you get out and work out with your dog, the better chance they have of socializing with other dogs and people. And, many dogs with allergies can benefit from daily walks or playing with you. 

How Much Exercise You & Your Dog Need 

According to the CDC, the average person needs about 150 minutes of activity every single week. If working out five times a week, that’s about 30 minutes a day. The American Kennel Club suggests about the same amount for your dog. 

However, depending on the size, weight, and activity level of your dog, they may need more or less time out and exercising. For example, highly active dogs like Siberian Huskies and Australian Shepherds may need more than 150 minutes a week. But a smaller and more docile dog like a Shih Tzu or Pug may need less. 

If in doubt, don’t be afraid to contact your dog’s veterinarian and ask for their advice and opinion on how much exercise your dog needs. They will be able to tell you based on your dog’s breed, size, and medical history. 

As with anything, remember to be safe and watch over your dog. Many of the exercises on this list are completed outside. During extreme weather, like snow or heat waves, remember to take care of your dog. 

Some signs of heat exhaustion and freezing include:

  • Panting excessively
  • Hyperventilating
  • Excessive shivering 
  • Whining or barking 
  • Trying to keep paws off the ground

If your dog exhibits any of these signs, stop exercising immediately and seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Exercises To Get Fit With Your Dog 

The benefits of getting fit with your dog are immense for the both of you. Don’t be afraid to shake up your workout routine and try all of these exercises. Just like you’d get bored doing the same regimen over and over, so would your dog. And, workouts don’t have to be boring either. Here are a few ways to exercise with your pup. 

play with dog

Go For Walks 

Of course, going for a walk is one of the best ways to get fit with your dog. Not only do they get to explore, but walking benefits the both of you in many ways. In fact, walking has been reported to extend life expectancy, as well as lower chances of cancer and heart disease related deaths. 

If you decide to go on a walk, remember to bring water for the both of you. Also, prepare for any heat waves, rain, or other weather that may not be well suited for your dog. Remember, if gravel or a sidewalk is too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog. 

Take A Hike 

Want to add a bit of a challenge to your normal walks? Try hiking. This may be an exercise better suited for larger or more active dogs, but it’s a great workout nonetheless. Just like with walking, be sure to bring water and the right gear.

If you or your dog are new to hiking, take it easy at first. It’s easy to become winded and tired on a trail. Start with a shorter and less challenging trail. Once you’ve built up your stamina, you can then focus on the longer and more challenging trails. 

When hiking, it’s safer to keep your dog on a leash. Unfamiliar terrain, people, and animals may spook your dog. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Also, dog shoes that are properly fitted are a great idea if you’re unsure of the trail’s pavement. 

Go Swimming 

Not every dog enjoys water and swimming. However, if your pup loves the water, they may enjoy swimming with you. This low-impact exercise is also great for older dogs and people and those who may have joint pain. 

If you decide to swim with your dog, don’t forget to put them in a pet safety vest. Even strong swimmers can tire out or make a mistake. As with anything, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Plus, the safety vest will allow your dog to be independent, which means you won’t have to assist them in getting in and out the pool, lake, or other body of water. 

Even though you’ll be swimming, don’t forget to lay out some fresh water. Dogs can get thirsty during regular exercise, even swimming, and fresh water will keep them from becoming dehydrated. 

Go To The Park 

Do you have a dog park or park that’s dog friendly near you? If so, you could get fit with your dog while having fun. Exercises and games like fetch, ball games, tug of war, and exploring are great for dogs and humans. Plus, these activities help high energy dogs like Beagles and Boxers burn off their energy and fuel. 

Just like with hiking, it may be best to leash your dog before going to the park. Some dog parks have leash free areas, which is nice if you want to play a few games of fetch. However, if around other dogs or people, a leash is a safe and easy tool to have on hand for your pup. Not only does it keep them from potential danger, but it also protects others around you. 

Try Out An Agility Course

dog agility course

Some dog parks and dog training studios have agility courses that you and your dog can try. This is a great exercise for both you and your dog. Not only will they practice their running and agility, but you’ll have to keep up with them, which gets your steps in as well. 

Agility courses are great for more agile dogs like Border Collies and Jack Russell Terriers, as they’re able to practice training and their speed. Of course, any dog can participate in an agility course, but dogs like Border Collies enjoy it a bit more. 

Agility courses include items like tunnels, rings, weave poles, and seesaw. So you’ll need to be able to keep up with your dog. An intermediate fitness skill may be best for agility training and working out. 

No matter what workout you choose to do, spending time with your dog and exercising together is beneficial for the both of you. And not only is it fun, but the both of you can reap the benefits of working out regularly. Besides, who doesn’t love working out with man’s best friend?

Mark Webster is the co-founder and chief editor at DogFoodHeaven.com. His aim? Simple. Cut through the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four legged friends.

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