“If you hang out with chickens, you're going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you're going to fly.” -Steve Maraboli
If you hang out with your dog, you won’t necessarily start barking, but stop and think about this quote for a minute. If you could think of one living being that is SUPER excited to exercise, is there a well-adjusted human you can think of that loves a walk around the neighborhood more than your dog? Dogs don’t think of it as work, they think of it as FUN! Secondly, is there a well-adjusted human that enjoys spending time with you while exercising more than your dog? Probably not. This is why your dog can be the best exercise accountability partner a person can 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 (let’s certainly hope so anyway), but wouldn’t your dog benefit from a little exercise too? Killing these two birds with one stone has benefits for both parties (you and your dog), both inside and out. In this article, you will be presented with several ideas of how to exercise with your dog in fun and diverse ways.
The First Steps
Here are a couple of facts to remember and consider before making your dog the best workout partner EVER.
Look at the health of you and your dog. Ask yourself if there any factors that you should consider, such as:
Any of these conditions should not become excuses for abstaining from exercising, but should be considered and researched before making a 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 that you can always 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.
Simplicity: Go at it the Old School Way
Go on a walk! You don’t need anyone to tell you that your dog loves to go on walks. Think about how your dog acts when you ask him/her “Do you want to go on a walk?” or what they do when you get out their leash? 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.
The newest trend with doggie workouts it 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 he/she has had an accident and is needing 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.
Yes, yes, we all know that a competitive run just isn’t for you. This is obviously at a high-intensity level for you and your dog, but maybe it could be a long-term goal for you and your furry friend. There are all sorts of dog walk/runs that not only give you and your dog friendly competition against other teams, but there are also events that are geared towards helping animals in need. An example of a race like this is the Furgo Race in Fargo, North Dakota. A portion of the proceeds from this race is donated to local pet shelters. There are many races like this around the United States. If there is not one near you, this would be a great event to host!
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.