5 Ways to Get a Good Workout with Your Dog
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There are many science-backed benefits of dog ownership. The American Kennel Club (AKC) reports that these include reduced feelings of loneliness, lower stress levels, and—perhaps the most compelling reason—a lower risk of death.
One additional reason mentioned by the AKC is that, on average, a dog owner is roughly four times more likely to get the recommended amount of daily physical activity than someone without a pet. What are a few ways to get both of you some much-needed regular exercise?
1. Take Your Pup on a Daily Walk
This is probably the simplest thing you can do as a pet parent. Grab your pup, put on their leash, and head out the door.
Regular physical activity is important for your dog’s health. Just how much exercise is based on a few different factors. One is age. Older dogs tend to need less exercise than a puppy, for instance. Breed matters too as some dogs are naturally more energetic and athletic than others. Your vet can help you determine the amount of exercise appropriate for your pet.
No matter what their specific recommendations, taking your furry friend for a brisk walk is a great way to get off the treadmill and breathe in some fresh air. Taking your workout outside offers even more benefits than exercising with your dog indoors. This includes increasing your mental stimulation, thereby boosting your creativity.
2. Engage Your Furry Friend in a Game of Frisbee or Catch
Another outdoor activity to consider is playing catch or throwing a frisbee to your dog. After throwing the fetchable item, do jumping jacks or jog in place until your pet brings the item back. Do this long enough and you’ll have a tired dog while getting yourself one step closer to your own weight loss or fitness goals.
If your yard isn’t big enough to throw a frisbee or play catch, go to a local dog park. Whereas most other parks require you to keep your pet on a leash, a dog park allows you to remove that leash and let them run around to get the physical exercise they need.
3. Join a Fitness Class that Allows Your Pet to Participate Too
More fitness facilities are beginning to recognize the desire for pet owners to include their pups in their workouts. Find one near you to keep both you and your dog physically active. Taking a group-based class can increase your motivation as well by making your exercise routine more fun.
One example of this type of class is dog yoga, or doga. Yoga is known for increasing your mindfulness while also improving flexibility, strength, and overall fitness. Doing yoga with your dog can make them a part of this process, offering them greater peace and fitness too.
Other fitness classes to look for include human-canine bootcamps, agility courses, and even tai chi. An online search for “pet friendly exercise classes near me” should give you the options that are available in your local area.
4. Set Up an Obstacle Course for You and Your Dog
Obstacle courses are good for working a variety of muscles while also honing your balance and coordination skills. If you have a good-sized back yard, you can set up this type of course for you and your dog. Run through it together for a good cardio workout.
Use items around your house, such as filling old milk jugs with sand, spacing them a few feet apart, then running around them in a figure-eight pattern. Add small ramps made of wood with little jumps in between.
You can also find pet-friendly obstacles for sale online. This allows you to create a course as elaborate as you like, keeping both you and your dog engaged in your daily exercise program.
5. Incorporate Your Pooch into Your Strength Training Routine
Strength training is good for building muscle, raising your metabolism, and helping you maintain a healthy weight. Yet, sometimes this form of exercise gets pushed aside. Keep it in your workout routine by including your pet.
You can build muscle while playing with their favorite toy, for instance. This is especially true with larger dogs if their favorite item is a tug toy. You’ll get a good bicep workout by trying to pull that toy away. If you have a small dog, use their weight by lifting them to do chest presses or do pushups while they stand on your back.
You can also incorporate strength training into everyday activities with your pet. Do a lunge every time you lower down to pet them. You could also do a lunge every time you fill their food or water bowl. By the end of the day, you will have given your legs a solid workout.
Things to Remember When Doing a Workout with Your Dog
Including your pet in your workout is a great way to get and stay fit together. That said, it is still important to remember that they aren’t human. Therefore, you may have to take a few precautions to ensure that your workout is safe for them.
For instance, if you live in an area that gets incredibly hot in the summer, the pavement can reach a temperature capable of causing injury to your dog’s paw. On days where temps are expected to get this high, take your walk in the early morning hours before the sidewalk or roadway has time to heat up. This also help you get in some physical activity before you day gets too busy and you push a workout aside.
Cold temps can be just as hard on their paw, as can some salt-like deicers for walking paths. Exercising indoors on these days can help avoid any issues and keep your dog safe.
Need to prepare yourself for workouts hot weather? Check out this ISSA blog: Training in the Heat—Why You Should and How to Do It Safely
Similar to your own hydration needs, consider those of your pet. If you plan to be away from home for any length of time with your pet or engage in a lot of exercise, carry water with you so they can rehydrate. You can purchase a collapsible bowl and keep it in your backpack.
If you have a senior dog, it’s important to not overdo it. They can’t take as much physical activity as a younger dog, so your exercise sessions may need to be a bit shorter. Special considerations may also need to be made if your dog has any health or movement issues. For example, some dog’s joints get stiff. In cases such as this, you may be limited in workout duration or intensity.
No Dog? No Problem
What do you do if you don’t have a canine companion of your own but would like to add a dog to your exercise routine? One option is to become a dog walker. This enables you to get in your physical activity while providing busy or immobile people in your community a much-needed service.
And if you can’t find a local exercise class that welcomes your dog (or its breed), you can always start your own. Organize a class revolving around dog sports or create a fitness routine that is fun for pets and pet owners alike.
If you’re not sure how to lead a group class, the ISSA offers Group Exercise Instructor certification. This course provides the training needed to create a safe, effective exercise routine for your human participants. From there, all you have to do is find ways to add their pup into the workout. Be creative and see what you come up with.