Did you know that according to ASPCA, around 78 million dogs are currently living in homes in America, making dogs second only to cats in terms of our choice of pets. Most would agree that their pooch is a treasured member of the household, and there is little we wouldn’t do for Fido, yet one thing we seem to be doing too little of, is providing dogs with all the exercise they need.
All dogs need to spend time outdoors every day, and enjoy at least one long walk in which they can give their heart, and muscles a workout and keep their joints limber. The same goes for human beings; health professionals and the media are consistently warning us of the effects of the sedentary lifestyle (which range from obesity to diabetes and heart disease), so it seems that one great way to kill two birds with one stone, is to hone our fitness outdoors alongside our pets!
When the Weather is Great
There are so many fitness choices in the Spring and Summer you may have difficulty picking just one. These include running (ideal for very energetic and younger dogs) for under four miles, walking as long as you both are enjoying it, and cycling, with your dog running by your side. There are specific dog cycle mounts which allow you to attach a dog lead safely to your bike, so do your research into interesting products that will ensure safety and stability.
Feel free to give free rein to the inner child in you, by skating, skateboarding or longboarding with your pooch running alongside you. Some dogs even take to skateboards and prefer to ‘captain’ the board themselves, which will evidently make for many fantastic photo opportunities.
In the summer, water sports like kayaking or paddle boarding are ideal; just make sure your dog has a top quality flotation vest to ensure he feels secure swimming in a large body of water. Of course, always remain in the water with him or paddle very close to him in your kayak or canoe.
When the Weather is Inclement
During the winter, snow can wrest your motivation to take your dog for a walk, but it doesn’t have to. Unless the conditions are truly harsh or blizzard-like, you can still enjoy exercise in the snow with your dog.
If the temperature drops to below 45ºF, make sure your dog has a good vest or jacket and footwear and if you forego dog boots, make sure to exercise good paw care. The latter involves cutting the hair around your dog’s paws short, to avoid ice and snow becoming trapped between toes and causing frostbite. You should also apply a good paw wax to serve as a barrier between his skin and the snow.
Be especially careful if your dog is a puppy, or is old and has a health conditions. Temperatures beneath 20ºF can cause hypothermia and frostbite so exercise indoors on particularly harsh days.
Cool Indoor Games to Play
Believe it or not, you and your dog can get a great workout indoors. Take the game of fetch… who says only your pooch has to run for the ball? Try indoor soccer, or play tag, rolling your dog’s favorite ball to another family member on the other side of a room while your dog attempts to get to the ball before the other person catches it. Dogs often take a bit of training to ‘get into’ games but once they do, there’s no holding them back.
There are many ways you can stay fit and active alongside your dog, helping both of you keep cancer, obesity, and heart disease at bay. Run, walk, or even go for a swim together and make sure you remain active even on the chilliest of winter days.