How can it be possible to exercise with the Dog?
Actually easier than you may think and if you have a dog that is a little on the chubby side (like Dolly, my Westie) and if you also have a body which requires more than just a diet overhaul, then why not incorporate exercise for the both of you, it is often lots of fun and a good use of time as this is often in short supply.
I have been doing some research on what I can do with a somewhat sedantry dog and an even more sedentary (me)
Top 8 Ideas.
But 1st Some statistics which may amaze you:
17% of Adults and children in the US are currently overweight, many obese, this is according to the recent data from Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
More worryingly are the statistics for your pets. It is said that 52% of mans best friend is either overweight or obese. That is an outrageous statistic for which we the owners have to take some or all of the responsibility.
The risks to health are actually similar for both human and canine in terms of diabetes, joint pain/arthritis and of course the two big killers Heart Disease and Cancer.
My Dog was in the obese category and we knew things had to change.
I talked to the Vet about exercise and she said the physicality of my dog and in fact all short legged dogs together with breeds which have a flat nose (like Pugs or Bulldogs) are unable to jog or run for long distances. With this in mind I started to do some research on what could we do together as I too needed some exercise.
NB Puppies are not supposed to run for long periods as bones are still growing and should speak to your vet before undergoing a change in routine.
1/ Walking The Dog
Easiest and most obvious is walking the dog, but you can easily add a bit meaning to the walk by including distance and time. If the dog (and or you) get tired when walking any distance then repetition is the key, 20 minutes x two then three times per day will be the equivalent of a long hike
2/ Dog Park
Whilst this is may not exercise the dog owner, taking to the dog park is both therapeutic and enjoyable. Your dog will fulfil the social interaction which is important, together with lots of adrenalin and burning off energy. It is a great way to see your canine charges mixing with their own species and generally doing what dogs do best
If you are lucky enough to be near the sea, or indeed have your own pool then this may offer an excellent form of exercise, in particular, dogs who have joint problems, this because there is no weight bearing down on sore joints.
Often used as rehabilitative form of recovery for dogs (and cats) it is especially good for the obese dog and owner.
Do not think it is a passive form of exercise far from it, both you and the dog can both have the heart rate increased, blood pumping and yet it is safe on the body. This is such a good form of getting the body in fitter condition without strain on joints.
4/ Jog, Run or Cycle
Everyone knows the benefit that jogging can bring in terms of increasing physical fitness levels, raising the endorphins in the brain, it is also good for mental health and is a way of dealing with stress and anxiety. Often recommended by Doctors as part of an overall regime.
If both you and the dog are unfit then go easy at the start with intermittent jogging then walking, two minutes jogging, followed by thirty second walking, over the next week increase the jogging part of the session by increasing the jogging minutes and slowly over the weeks increase the amount of jogging and decreasing the walking so within a period of 6 weeks you will be able to jog for 35 to 40 minutes walking for 2.
There are a number of free apps on your cell/mobile phone which will guide the whole process. But now let’s add the dog, what better way, and he will love the activity.
As mentioned previously the short legged dogs and flat nosed dogs may struggle to jog for more than 15 to 20 minutes. But you can be guided by your own dog. He too will need breaking in slowly if he is overweight.
For the longer legged dogs and for those who require lots of activity, (that’s most of the working dogs) together with some of the utility dogs, for example, sheep dog collies, Huskies, Greyhounds, Labradors, Dalmatians, and so on, then you can up the regime and take them cycling. They will need to be on a long leash and on cycle paths, you will need to have a good level of obedience with this type of exercise but it is hugely popular in our area and you will often see people along the seafront cycling with their dogs.
Finally for the very fit then running long distances whilst accompanied with the dog. But like cycling your dog has to be fit and long-legged. This is wonderful for the hardworking dogs who don’t work anymore and yet still require lots of exercise.
Good old-fashioned Frisbee throwing, catch and retrieve and things like Tug-O-War, this will strengthen the upper part of both dog and owner, the bigger dogs can really give you a run for your money and if you engage with the dog both will feel exhausted come the end of the session.
6/ Dolly It’s Too Wet Outside
But what if its raining and downright miserable, here in the UK we have an abundance of wet weather and have to get used to it, but sometimes it really is too miserable to go out, so how will you keep both dog and you fit?
If you live in a building with stairs then simply go up and down them many times, I remember when I stayed in a Hotel in London I asked if I could run up and down the back stairs, they looked at me quizzically as if I was mad but at 10 story’s high, I achieved a great work out after running up and down the stairs for 40 minutes. It will build your core strength and the dog will enjoy bounding up and down the stairs and gives him a great work out. Again you need to be mindful of breed, not all dogs are equal and the short and small will not be able to do more than 5 flights.
Another inside option is The Treadmill, yes your Dog will enjoy the treadmill if you get him used to it.
One of the most wonderfully entertaining forms of exercise I used to do with my previous dog was “Agility Classes” this is fairly specific and some dogs are naturals at it, like the working collies, they adore agility classes and it is huge fun, and boy will you get a work out as you run with them around the course encouraging and showing them the way.
Another fad to hit Brighton seafront is Doga, this is Yoga with your Dog, I have seen some excellent You Tube videos where Buzz the pet collie is in a master class all of his own with owner.
For the most part it is a lot of fun but am not expecting great results as Dolly my Westie, (like many terriers) is very easily distracted and will not do “Down Dog” more than once and will often just get in my way when trying to perform certain positions, especially when it involves lying down. Some dogs however do enjoy following their master or mistress and it is great fun to observe
8/ Let’s Get Down and Dirty
Ok maybe I should say resistance exercise, walking in Mud, walking in the snow, or sand and or waters edge, this is all a form of resistance training and will outperform just walking. Not all dogs like water, but most love mud, so you need to be prepared for this one if you are walking in muddy water. My dog is white and requires a hose down on return, great in the summer awful in the winter. Waters edge walking in summer can only be achieved if your borough allow Dogs on the Beach in during the summer months. Although they often allow first thing in the morning or in the evening.
Always take a big supply of poo sacks as you will have many non dog owners (with children) who will be rightly concerned with dogs on the beach.
For The Love of Dogs Lets Look at A Gadget,
I found a pretty cool gadget the other day and thought I might do a Product Review, but in simple terms its a Fit Bit for the Dog, sits on his collar in the shape of a bone, it will measure his fitness levels, calories burned, exercise and even apparently his sleep quality. For those owners who like me are concerned about weight gain and all around fitness and health then this might be on the Christmas wish list
I have now completed a Product Review for Fitbit 2 and I am a real fan. If you would like to read more click on this link.
No Excuses Now.
There you have it, a cast iron reason for you and the hound to get out and do something together. Start slow, build up and before you know it the both of you will be a whole lot fitter and happier. Eight ideas and probably many more that I have not yet thought about.
If you know of any other exercises you can do with your dog please write in the comment box.
I would love to see pictures or hear how you and your Dog are shaping up. Or just to hear if you liked the blog
If you would like me to do a product review of any Dog Related gadgets let me know and I will investigate further.
Thank you for reading my blog
Cordelia & Dolly