Have you considered how your dog can help you stay fit? If not, you should! Developing an exercise routine for you and your dog to do together is a great way to combat puppy boredom, canine obesity, and promote positive mental health!
Our pets bring so much joy and excitement to our lives. We should try to spend as much time with them as possible. It’s no wonder so many of us go out of our way to find a way to include our dogs in every aspect of our lives. We find
How to Start a Dog-Friendly Exercise Routine That Will Last
If you want to get in shape alongside your happy hound, check out these tips to make sure you start a routine that’s safe and you can stick to it.
1. Take Your Vet’s Advice
The first thing you need to establish your dog’s new fit lifestyle is to take him to the vet for a checkup. Your vet can give you advice on how much exercise your dog should be getting and if your dog is healthy enough to run, run, run.
If your dog is still a puppy, 10-months or younger, you might as well wait for him to get a little bigger. Your dog’s bone plates will still be forming until he reaches his full grown size. This means something different for most dogs. Like Saint Bernards they continue to grow until they are two-and-a-half years old, but most dogs stop growing by around 10-month points.
Other dog breeds aren’t suitable for running. If you have a Pug, Boston Terrier, or French Bulldog, your vet will most likely nix the idea of them getting too involved in cardio. Their short snouts make it difficult to breathe, leading to serious health concerns for these and other short-snouted dogs.
2. Choose an Exercise That Works Best for You.
You can rollerblade, run, jog, hike, swim, sign up for an exercise-with-your-dog class, or resist walking with your beloved hound! While all of this sounds awesome, most people choose to run with their dogs.
I suggest you try our a few or begin a combination of a couple. Hike one day, and jog the next time you exercise. Or swim with your dog on a warm summer day and then try yoga with your downward dog the next day. It’s really up to you.
3. Start Off Slow
Have you been working out regularly? If so, good for you! If not, you’ll want to condition yourself while you condition your dog.
You’ll need to make sure your pup’s paws are ready to pound the pavement. Dogs need to build up calluses on their paw pads so they don’t injure themselves by overdoing it. You can pick up a paw protectant cream to help them get used to running or help protect their paws if you hit a hiking trail.
You want to go slow and steady for the first few weeks while your body is getting used to your routine. Try a run-jog-walk pattern to start off with. Make sure you take plenty of downtime. Don’t start by running daily.
4. Plan Ahead and Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Doggie dehydrated is a serious problem. Dogs struggle to release their built-up heat since they don’t sweat the same way we do. They sweat from their paw which can become a problem if they’re running on warm or hot pavements.
Always bring along plenty of water, and you will want a travel bowl, too. Not only should you make sure your dog is drinking enough but encourage your dog to drink more by planning your exercise near lakes, streams, and ponds.
Your dog needs to stay hydrated. Dogs can suffer from heatstroke and heat exhaustion if they become too dehydrated. This can have permanent effects or even result in death.
It’s always a good idea to preview where you’re going to run or skate. Make sure there’s no broken glass or sharp rocks. Hiking through sharp sticks is also a no-no.
Keeping your dog hydrated is especially important during the summer.
5. Try to Overcome the Backslide
Let your dog motivate you. When you get home and you’re thrilled to see your dog, consider taking him for some exercise to reward him for all the happiness he brings you. Dogs need to exercise. In fact, most of them require exercise for their mental health in addition to physical health. That’s why exercise can reduce behavior issues in your canine companion.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a day, though. Most people give up on their routine after only missing one or two sessions. Don’t let this happen. You’ve decided to make a positive change and you should celebrate your achievements rather than focusing on your setbacks.
Try keeping yourself motivated with fresh sights and sounds (and smell for your pooch). Find a scenic route and stop and take plenty of pictures or go to a state park and plan for a picnic mid-hike.
Making a commitment to your dog’s health and your own is invaluable. By helping your dog stay fit and healthy you’ve likely extended his life and your own. So get out there. Remember the water bowl. Lace up your hiking boots and have some fun!