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Woofing all the Way: A Five-Minute Guide to Exercising with Your Dog
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Your dog can be the best exercise accountability partner you have. When your dog gets into the workout routine, they can be even more convincing than your best human friend in getting you off the couch and out the door. Who can say “no” to those sad puppy eyes?
Everyone knows that it is good to exercise, and taking your furry companion along for is just what they are hoping. Dogs are keen for just about any form of exercise out there, so get moving with your pup!
What should I think about before exercising my dog?
Remember, just like it is with humans, prior to starting fitness activities with your canine buddy, you have to make sure they are ready for it.
Before making your furry pal the best workout partner EVER, look at the health of you and your dog. Ask yourself if there are any factors you should consider, such as:
Age (be careful of a young pup's growing bones)
These conditions should be considered and researched before making your exercise plan. Consulting your vet and doctor should also be on your list because most of the time, what keeps you or your dog from exercising can be maintained and managed so that you don’t hit a roadblock in the future. Remember the adage is, start out slow and easy; the important part is that you start. Here are a couple of ways you can work out with your dog and have a little fun and excitement while doing it.
Start With a Walk
Go on a walk! You don’t need anyone to tell you that your dog loves to go on walks. While taking your dog on a walk seems way too simple, it is a good place to start. If it has been a while for both of you, going on a walk around the block is a great way to learn where you are physically. Even if it is just a short walk at first, anything is better than nothing. If your dog is of the “hyper and overactive” type, this can be a great opportunity to not only get that extra energy out of the way, but it also establishes a stronger bond with you.
The newest trend with doggie workouts is doga. It is just what it sounds like; yoga for dogs! This is a great way to connect to the body and soul while building your relationship with your dog. Just like yoga for humans, doga focuses on meditation and stretching, mostly for your dog partner. Before you laugh, doga is a great way to exercise with your dog if they have had an accident and need a little physical therapy, or is permanently handicapped and unable to exercise otherwise. You will also complete these stretches and meditation along with your dog, so you will both leave feeling relaxed and revitalized.
Go Take a Hike
Hiking can be a great way to get in touch with nature and open up your body and mind. Dogs obviously have natural instincts that draw them to the nature around them. Before you say “hiking just isn’t for me”, think about it for a minute. Dogs are inherently descendants of canine units such as the wolf. Being cooped up in an apartment all day, waiting for their humans to come home can restrict this hereditary instinct. Pick an easy trail to start and head out for a trek. Keep your dog on their leash but let them lead the way with their nose. This allows both physical and mental stimulation.
Enjoy a Dip
Most dogs love the water. A swim in the ocean or lake is the perfect way to not only cool down on a hot day, but also take part in a weight-bearing exercise that gives a workout while being easy on the joints. When at the beach or lake, take a few precautions. For the beach, be mindful of the heat of the sand on your dog's paws and stay with them in the water. Dangerous undertows are something to watch for, too. At the lake, beware of blue-green algae. If you see algae on the surface of the water, do not allow your dog to swim. This algae is deadly to dogs and its effect is swift. To be on the safe side, take your pup to a dog-friendly pool for a dip.
Whether you are sitting on your couch, wishing you could get out there and take that first step, or are a seasoned veteran in the art of exercising with your canine cohort, there are all sorts of avenues to help both you and your dog get to your goal fitness level. Exercising with your dog has many physical and psychological benefits that can help both of you reach your goals. Your dog is waiting to hold you accountable for working out. Just open the door, and take the first step.