Be it the start of a new year or you just want to get out more, lose weight and get healthy. As anyone who has ever made a commitment to start a new healthier lifestyle, finding the motivation to make life changes can be difficult. However, for dog-owners this doesn’t have to be the case. Utilizing your dog as an exercise buddy can make all the difference in helping you get fit. As an added bonus, extra exercise for your dog will lead to better behavior, lower vet bills, and a longer lifespan.
Listed below are suggestions for exercising with your pup!
Walking is ideal exercise for someone just starting to get into shape, or for someone who has a low-energy or elderly dog. If walking is already part of your daily routine, try adding 5 extra minutes to your daily walk each week. If walking together for the first time, be sure to have a harness and leash that are comfortable for both you and your dog. Start with short walks at first, such as 10 – 15 minutes. For dog owners with established walking routines, going for a long weekend hike is a fun way to explore nature while getting fit. Keep in mind that the more difficult the terrain, the better the workout! Check out our list of top trails to walk with your dog in the west end of Toronto.
Running & Jogging
Most dogs make excellent running buddies, especially medium or large breeds. Running with your dog can even make the exercise feel easier, as your dog is likely to happily pull you along! When starting a running program, be sure to gradually build up the amount of time you spend running. Walk/run programs where you alternate 1-2 minutes of walking with 1-2 minutes of running can help you both acclimate to the exercise, as well as stay motivated to continue running.
If yoga is part of your exercise routine, consider finding a “Doga” class, where you and your canine best bud can stretch, strengthen, and relax together. Often found in big cities, a doga class encourages dog and owner to support one another in various poses, such as downward facing dog or cobra. Doga is perfect for well-behaved dogs who don’t mind being manipulated, and for humans who would like to learn a new routine that can be done at home!
For owners and dogs who have mismatched energy levels, bikejoring, where a dog safely runs alongside a bicycle that the owner rides, is a great solution. Any bicycle can be adapted for this activity, and most dogs can readily learn how to bike alongside their humans with little training. Be sure to start slowly, though, and be aware that a dog’s paws need time to acclimate to running on asphalt. If you just want to take your small dog along for a bike ride consider getting them a basket to sit in and enjoy the journey together.
Although many people assume that Agility classes only provide exercise for dogs, the handler actually receives a strenuous workout, as well! The dog owner must run, signal, and interact with his or her dog throughout the class, which can become quite tiring. As their dogs become better at running Agility courses, most handlers find these classes to be a great substitute for cardio! Agility can be super addictive so be prepared to have a whole lot more dog days!
Let us know how you are getting fit with your pup!