A Guide to Getting Fit with Your DogBy Angelica Malin
If you are wanting to change your lifestyle for the better, incorporating daily exercise into your routine can bring you a wide array of health benefits. However, if you feel you need a partner in crime to assist you, why not bring your furry friend along too? Here is a guide to getting fit with your dog.
Get Checked First
Just like with human beings, canines should see a vet before starting a new exercise routine. If you are looking to put in serious miles, you should speak to your vet first. A vet can examine your dog for any pre-existing conditions that could affect your dog’s ability to walk and run. Not only that, but they will be able to give you useful tips on how to warm up and cool down your dog. Your vet will only have your dog’s best interests at heart, so make sure you take on board everything they say so you can then work out what types of exercise is right for you and your dog.
The age of your dog will influence how much exercise they can do. If you have a puppy, your dog should not start exercising until their growth plates are closed. It’s best to wait until your puppy is one to two years old, however, this will depend on what breed of dog you have. If your dog is middle-aged or older, they may need to start slowing down. When you consider that a year in a large breed dog equates to 7-10 years in a human life, it’s important that you stay vigilant about your dog’s energy and health levels. One year can make all the difference between a happy and enthusiastic running partner to one who suffers from back pain or arthritis. If your pet is having trouble getting up and out the door, it may be time to reduce or stop exercise with them completely.
If your dog is new to running, it’s best to take things slow and start with just five minutes. Over time, your dog’s fitness levels will begin to improve which means you can make the exercise routine longer and longer. Many people think that their canines are born fit, however, their bodies need to adapt to exercise just like a human being does. After a couple of weeks, you can add an extra 5 to 10 minutes to your exercise routine, helping build your dog’s endurance.
Go on Longer Walks
When taking your dog out for his daily walk, instead of choosing your usual route (whether it be around the block or to the park), why not go further afield instead? Dogs love to explore and be in new surroundings. Staying out for longer means more exercise for you and your furry friend, which will see you gain several health benefits. You should also purchase a step tracker that can monitor how many steps you do. Injecting a bit of fun into your daily walk with your dog can make all the difference and give you the fitness kick you want.
Know Your Dogs Limitations
When on a run, your dog is unable to tell you when they are tired, sore or in pain. This means that you need to look out for any warning signs that can help you detect when your dog is ready to stop exercising. Many dogs try to push themselves to their limits in order to please us humans, so make sure that you keep an eye on your dog’s tail position, breathing, pace, and gait. Monitoring their pace is incredibly important. If you notice your dog is staggering behind, this should be a telling sign that you need to stop.
Pay Attention to Weather and Paws
When heading outdoors to exercise with your canine, the type of weather outside can play a massive part in how well your dog performs. You need to remember that in cold temperatures (especially in the winter months), pavements and roads can become icy and slippery, which makes it harder for your dogs to walk. Ensure that you check their paws for any sore spots, which you can also prevent with pairs of doggy boots.
There are plenty of outdoor sports that you and your dog can enjoy. Some of these activities include kayaking, camping, paddle boarding, trail running, hiking and rollerblading. Before you both participate in an activity, ensure that your dog is well-trained first. It’s important that your dog remains calm and non-reactive so you can both get the most out of an activity. Also, you may find that your dog enjoys one activity more than another. Simply try out any of the activities listed to find one that suits you both. That way, exercise can be a fun and enjoyable experience, rather than a chore.
Diet and Nutrition
When getting fit with your dog, you will want your mind and body to be functioning to the best of their ability. There are several factors that you need to consider ensuring that both you and your dog follow a nutritious and balanced diet. If you are thinking of switching to hypoallergenic dog food, you can find a nutritional analysis here, which can help you find the right types of food for him. Fish4Dogs can give you more information on how much food a dog consumes on an average day as well as the nutritional value of their products.
When exercising with your beloved pet, you do not want to run out of energy easily, so it could be worth creating a food diary where you can document what you eat each day, helping you make small but beneficial changes to your diet.
Staying consistent is key when it comes to exercise. Depending on the size and breed of your dog, you will need to allocate time out of your day for exercise that you both can benefit from. If you’re not feeling up to exercising on a certain day, the chances are your dog will be, so even getting out for 30 minutes to have a stroll around your neighbourhood can make a big difference and provide you with a little bit of exercise.
If you live alone with your dog, you may benefit from exercising with other dog owners. Taking a step out of your comfort zone and engaging with other dog walkers when out and about can be incredibly beneficial. Not only will you get the exercise you need, but you can boost your social life, which will help with your confidence. Your dog will also be able to engage with other animals and humans, which can improve their behaviour and communication skills. Try and have a look to see if there are any dog exercise classes in your local area. Doing something different may seem initially daunting, however, once you get used to attending a class, you will feel more confident and relaxed.
Whether you change the route you walk your dog, partake in outdoor sports or become more sociable with other dog owners, there are all sorts of ways to improve both you and your dog’s physical and mental health. Getting out the house each day to do some exercise can give you various health benefits, helping you lead a more positive outlook on life.