Running and Other Fun Exercises for you and your Dog
Today we welcome Sydney, Australia based veterinarian, Eloise Bright as a guest writer for the letter ‘R’ for our A to Z post on, wait for it…of course, RUNNING! As you will soon find out, Eloise and SlimDoggy have a common point of view on the value of exercising regularly with your dog.
Our pets are now part of our lifestyle and in no area is this more important than with exercise. According to the National Pet Obesity Survey over 52% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese. And while one third of Americans are obese, dog owners are fitter and healthier than those without pets. Even walking with your dog helps to keep your mind and body healthy and could possibly even prevent dementia. However, as with anything in life, variety is the key. If your daily walks are getting a little on the dull side and you are looking for some inspiration, read on for some great new ideas for exercise with your dog.
Running, Cycling, Rollerblading or Skating
Running burns more calories than just walking the same distance (as much as 3 times more), making it the best form of exercise for you and your pet. If your dog is relatively well trained on the leash you can easily tether him to your belt and hit the pavement at a good pace. You may need to do a bit of training to ensure your heel is reliable before jumping on the bike, roller-skates or rollerblades, but the payoff is adventures that can really go further afield than a walk.
If you happen to have an older dog that can’t make the distance on longer walks, find a second hand 3 wheeler jogger pram, or a carrier you can use to strap your pooch on. There are also great pet (or children’s) bike trailers that allow you to take your pet with you on longer outings to the shops or further afield than just a regular walk.
For some extra motivation, KC Dog Runners in Kansas City, Missouri matches volunteers with rescue dogs for a monthly running club. What better motivation than knowing if you cancel your run, a rescue dog won’t get out for the day. Rescue groups are always very happy to have extra dog walkers and a well-exercised happy dog is more likely to get adopted, talk about a win-win situation!
Doga is of course dog yoga. Practitioners include your pooch in the various postures. Exercises such as the downward dog take on a whole new meaning. We very rarely stretch our dogs, so this is one way to make sure you and your furry friend stay fit and supple. If you want to try Doga at home, there are some free exercise videos available here. As with any new exercise, consult with your Vet to make sure the exercises are safe for your pet. Some poses require unusual positions which may be dangerous for certain dogs that have respiratory or cardiac disease and those postures that require hip extension should not be performed in growing dogs or those with hip problems.
Skiing or Skijoring
This fabulous winter sport really is the definition of teamwork between you and your pet. Part sledding part cross country skiing, it involves tethering skier and dog via harnesses. The human part of the team has poles to help things move along during the tough bits, so it isn’t all a free ride for the two-legged team member. The first competition was held in Scandanavia, but there are organisations throughout the world.
Join an Agility club
If you love training with your dog and the social aspect of pet ownership, joining an agility club can be a great way for you both to get mental and physical exercise. Agility is not just about the dogs, owners need to keep pace too. Check out the inspirational Crufts agility finalists here.
You can do this at home in the yard or at the park. Get one of your dog’s favourite toys and set up some basic exercise stations. Some dogs will be happy to follow along with your walking lunges, and you can even train them to weave through your legs in between squats and lunges.
Some examples of exercises:
- Stand with feet hip width apart and squat, as though sitting down on a chair, as you rise raise the toy above your head and encourage your dog to jump for it.
- Throw the toy for your dog to fetch and while waiting for him to return do as many burpees or walking lunges as possible.
- Lie on your back and do a full sit-up, as you reach the top, throw your dog’s favorite toy a short distance, then come back down. Repeat for 20 repetitions.
Fetch and Tag
If your dog knows how to fetch, put a new spin on this game by throwing the ball, then running for it yourself. Make it a race for the ball. Great to really get the heart-rate up, and your dog will think it’s an even better game than usual.
Dancing with your Dog
Dancing is great for mental health and fitness and particularly good for the elderly. Some research indicates it may even help prevent dementia. Did you know you can also dance with your dog? Imagine the matching outfits you and your canine friend could wear! There are many different styles, but freestyle dancing allows for the most creativity. This amazing canine team has some fabulous ‘grease ‘ moves.
We hope these ideas have inspired you to get out and enjoy some new fun activities with your dog. New research from Michigan State University reports that people with canine companions are 34% more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week, compared to those with no pets. Incorporating your dog into your exercise routine can make exercise more fun for you both and increase the human-canine bond. And your furry exercise buddy will never cancel a session on you at the last minute.
About Eloise Bright
Eloise Bright is a mom to Duster, the Pomeranian, and Jimmy, the cat. As a Sydney based veterinarian of 7 years currently working with Love That Pet, Eloise has taken the opportunity to volunteer at charity clinics and is now completing her Masters in Small Animal Practice. Chat with her on Google+.
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