Not only is dog man’s best friend, he’s man’s best workout partner, too! Think about it: They need exercise, we need exercise, they’re almost always up for it, and unlike your friend from work, your pup won’t call to cancel at the last minute. In fact, a study from Michigan State University found that dog owners are 34% more likely to meet the recommended amount of weekly exercise compared to those without dogs. Plus, in general, our dogs could use a lot more exercise. According to the Association of Pet Obesity and Prevention, over 50% of dogs are overweight—and over 20% are obese! By joining forces, you and your canine can fend off heart disease, arthritis, and even depression together. Here are 5 Ways to Exercise with Your Dog.
Before starting a new workout routine, have your dog checked at the vet to ensure they’re healthy enough for the chosen exercise. Similarly, we suggest having yourself checked over by your family physician just as a precaution.
Walking, jogging, running—all healthy adult dogs can do at least one. Some pups, like greyhounds, are awesome at sprinting, but don’t fare well on long distances. Others, like labs, are efficient joggers, but can’t sprint like the aforementioned greyhounds. Thankfully, all adult canines without preexisting health conditions can enjoy modest morning walks, which still help improve cardiovascular and immune system health. For best results, avoid running/walking during the hottest and most humid times of the day, and if you have a short-nosed breed like a pug or bulldog, keep the distance under five miles. Click here for help finding the right breed for your style of running or jogging. Want to learn more? Check out these 7 Tips for Running with Your Dog.
Many dogs take to swimming immediately, which is great, because it’s an incredible exercise you can share with your pup. Swimming is a particularly wise choice for older humans and canines, as it’s low-impact and therefore a good fit for individuals with arthritis and other joint complications. Swimming is also a two-for-one workout, in that it not only improves cardiovascular health but also strengthens muscles. Just remember to never leave your pup alone in the pool unsupervised, even strong canine swimmers can suffer accidents when left unattended.
Hiking is one of our favorite ways of exercising with doggies, and thankfully they love it, too! There are a million smells to smell, plenty of fresh air to breathe, and lots of nature to explore. Plus, hiking is usually so totally entertaining, you hardly notice you’re exercising at all. Like with all exercises, check with your vet beforehand, start slow, and see how your pup handles the activity before tackling any serious trails. Unlike most exercises on this list, hiking requires several pieces of equipment to do it correctly (including canine-safe bug repellent!). For a list of essential hiking gear, click here. More tips for successfully hiking with your dog can be found here.
If your dog prefers faster runs or is way ahead of you in the fitness department, cycling might be the right exercise to share with your pup. As you can imagine, cycling with a dog comes with many potential pitfalls and requires a strong ability to multitask, so we definitely recommend reading up on the subject first. For a list of necessary equipment (body harnesses, special leashes, etc) and tips for getting started, check out this helpful resource.
Stair climbing is a good option for those living in locations where extreme weather makes outdoor exercise difficult. From strengthening the lower body to cardio and weight loss, climbing stairs offers many benefits for dogs and their owners. If you access to an indoor staircase, simply walk or jog up and down the stairs at a safe pace for both you and your pup. Avoid stairs with openings that could trap your pup’s feet or legs, and use a body harness instead of a neck leash to avoid choking. If your canine is quite small or suffers from arthritis or other joint problems, stair climbing might not be the right workout for your dog.