There are many perks to having a pet – especially a dog. But, one of the biggest benefits is that they can instantly become a build-in workout buddy. Dogs need exercise just as much as people, and your dog is certainly never going to turn you down for a walk in the park or a game of fetch in the yard.
How you treat and train your dog will also end up being a reflection of their natural temperament. Regularly exercising with them can help to keep them calm and can change people’s perceptions of them, especially if you have a large breed or one that often gets labeled as “aggressive”.
Staying fit with your four-legged friend makes working out fun. It’s a great motivator, and you have an accountability partner waiting for you every day. So, how can you include pets in your fitness routine in ways that benefit you both?
Whether you already have your own fitness routine or you’re just getting started for the first time, taking things slowly is a good idea for both you and your pet. If both you and your dog are already in good shape, test it out by going on a 30-minute walk or jog. If you’re just starting out, make it a 10-15 minute walk.
If you try to do too much too quickly, you could risk injuring yourself or your furry friend. You could also start to become unmotivated, and not want to exercise. Unfortunately, your dog still needs it. If they aren’t able to be active, they could become restless and develop behavioral issues.
Speaking of which, that’s another important aspect to cover when you’re getting started with a fitness routine. Your pet needs to be well-trained if you’re going to be in public places. Whether you’re playing in the park or walking in the street, your dog needs to understand basic commands so they know not to attack anyone that might be out walking, such as postal workers, even if they feel threatened or provoked. Training starts at home, so you should always make sure your dog knows how to:
- Lay down
They should also know that jumping on people isn’t acceptable, or is running up to people they don’t know. Even if they’re friendly, people in public don’t know that, and it could create a scary situation. Exercising with your dog outside is great, but make sure they’re ready for it in every sense of the word.
Find the Right Activity
It’s easy to assume that all dogs love running, or that every breed will be ecstatic to hike a mountain trail. But, that’s not necessarily true. While almost all dogs love activity, it’s important to find the right activity that fits their needs.
For example, a Dachshund with short legs probably isn’t going to want to go on a hike. But, they might love taking a pet yoga class with you for their muscles and spine (alternatively, you could try goat yoga if you want to get the benefits of exercising with an animal and your pet isn’t interested. Yes, it’s a thing).
On the other hand, a Golden Retriever or Black Lab would probably love to be your running partner. Do you have a short little bulldog? They might be more inclined to go on the water with you to try some paddleboarding. Your beagle? They’ll love a short-distance jog. You might even say they would have a “howling” good time.
Don’t be afraid to try different activities. You have to find something you enjoy so you’re more likely to stick with it. But, finding the right activity to keep your pet safe, happy, and healthy is just as important.