As you may have already noticed, man’s best friend is up for anything, whether that is a game of fetch, a jog in your local park, or a day of being lazy and watching movies on the couch. Exercise is imperative for your health, and having a workout companion who is consistently excited might just be the motivation you need to get your steps in everyday. Whether you are looking to start or have already begun, exercising with Fido requires a little prep.
You Both Have Needs
While you use exercise as a means to stay healthy and relieve stress, dogs do the same. Exercise not only fights obesity, but it gives your dog an outlet to relieve pent up energy that could lead to destructive behavior such as chewing apart your favorite pair of sneakers. Before jumping in, it is recommended that a doctor gives you both the okay before starting any sort of workout regimen. The amount of exercise you do will need to be catered to your dog’s age, breed, and physical activity. For example, you wouldn’t attempt a 5-mile run if you had never run a day in your life.
The general consensus is that dogs benefit from one hour of exercise a day, whether that is playing fetch, going for a run, or playing a game of tug-of-war with their favorite toy and human sidekick. However, keep in mind that the amount of exercise will vary depending on the type of breed. Small breeds will exhaust much more quickly, and some breeds even have genetic limitations such as a short nose that make strenuous exercising a challenge due to their breathing difficulty. Factor in age as well, as adult dogs can go harder, longer, and more creatively than a senior dog or puppy.
When you are out and about with your dog, you are on the lookout for cars, other dogs, and anything Fido might possibly get into such as spilled garbage, but you need to keep an eye on your pooch too to ensure their safety. If your dog stops to sit or lie down, don’t start back up again until they are ready. You may have to call it a day if they are too tired or showing signs of heat exhaustion such as excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, or confusion. Keep water handy for the both of you, and make regular stops to take a drink.
Depending on the area in which you choose to exercise, you may decide to let your pooch have a little off-lead exercise so they can set their own pace. Make sure the environment is safe and enclosed to avoid having to chase after them. Although a stroll through the woods or a hike might seem like the perfect place to let your dog run free, their curiosity could bring them face-to-face with a wild animal. Teaching Fido commands such as “off” or “leave it” will come in handy in situations where simply backing away can stave off a confrontation such as with a raccoon, skunk, snake, or rodent. If you live in an area where venomous snakes are common, talk with your vet about getting the anti-venom vaccine in advance to carry with you on your adventures. Some wildlife might not be as easy to scare off, such as coyotes, which are known to go after dogs if they are threatened or hungry. Avoid exercising at dawn and dusk when they are on the move, and pay attention to news outlets warning of frequent sightings in a particular area.
Exercising with your pooch is a great way to strengthen the human-animal bond, but make sure you are both staying safe so the fun doesn’t have to come to an end.
Take into consideration the needs and abilities of you and your pooch before starting any sort of workout, and keep an eye out for potential dangers as well as signs that it is time to call it quits.