We all need to get in some exercise every day of our lives. Obesity is an issue that plagues millions of Americans, from the young to the middle-aged to the elderly. Unfortunately, we aren’t the only ones dealing with obesity in this country, our canine companions need to keep their lifestyle in check as well.
Around 50% of dogs are also struggling with excess weight. Like their human owners, overweight dogs are also at risk for certain health issues, such as heart disease and arthritis. We asked self-proclaimed dog lover Dave Miller of Cozy Crates for some input on canine obesity. Luckily, this is a problem that you can tackle together! Even if your dog is at a healthy weight, it is still a good idea to make sure they get the right amount of exercise every day.
Remember, it is important to talk to your vet concerning an exercise routine with your dog before you partake in one. You won’t want to choose an activity that is too difficult for your dog, especially if they are elderly or have a health condition. Once you get the green light from your vet, consider the following exercises you can participate in when you want your dog to be by your side.
One of the easiest exercises you can do with your dog is simply walking together. You don’t need anything fancy, besides a good pair of walking shoes and a leash! Walking will help you both lose unwanted weight, and regular walks can reduce common behavioral problems in dogs. Dogs enjoy getting out of the house to see and smell new things, and walking can make them much calmer once they get back home. Start slowly while working towards a goal. Increase your speed and distance as much as you can. Always bring water and a water dish for your dog, especially in hotter weather. And remember, the hot asphalt can quickly burn the paws of your pooch. Stay off the road or sidewalk in the hotter weather, or take your walk before it gets too hot. You may also wish to invest in a quality pair of dog booties to make sure your pup’s paws stay protected.
Most dogs love to swim, so why not incorporate your exercise routine with the water? Check around for local swimming pools that allow dogs in the water with their owners if you do not own a pool. You could also head to a local dog-friendly lake or beach. Swimming is a low-impact activity that is very easy on our joints. However, it works various muscle groups while strengthening our lungs and heart. Swimming also burns a lot of calories. When you include your dog, start slow to make sure they enjoy it. Not every dog will like being in the water, and you may have to entice them in when it is their first time. If your pup still resists, you will want to look for another activity.
If you are in an area that offers hiking opportunities, your dog is going to be happy! Almost every dog enjoys taking walks with their owners in areas that are new to them. Bring the necessary equipment to take care of you both during a hike, and start burning calories when you elevate your heart rate on the trail. Always bring plenty of water for both of you, and start your hikes slowly. Don’t hike when the temperature is extreme. It’s also a good idea to invest in a harness for your dog to keep him or her in control, especially when there are other people and animals around. Before you head out, make sure the trail you plan to hike is dog-friendly. You should also make sure your dog is protected with a quality flea and tick medication. When you get back home, check your dog, and yourself, for ticks.
A dog park may not be the first thought to come to mind when you are looking for an exercise you can do with your dog, but it’s a great idea when you have a local one! Find an off-leash dog park in your area, and get ready for a real workout. Your dog can set their own pace when they are off-leash, and you will burn plenty of calories when you take part in the play. This is a great time to invest in some balls or a Frisbee to play catch with. Your dog will get a chance to socialize with others while you get your heart rate up. Just make sure your dog is ready to be off-leash around the other dogs. You may want to complete an obedience training program before you allow your pooch to be off-leash around dogs and people.
There will be times you simply won’t feel like going out for a hike or to the dog park. The weather may be bad, or you just won’t feel like getting out of the house. Luckily, there are plenty of exercises you can do from home that your dog can take part in! Check YouTube for literally thousands of exercises you can do from home. You’ll find videos offering cardio, yoga, weight training, and more that can all be done in your home, right next to your four-legged friend. Best of all, your dog will love the fact that you are on the ground with him or her, following along to the exercise on the screen. They will likely get into the exercise mood themselves and start hopping around to the music. You can even find yoga videos that show you how to teach your dog some simple poses you can complete together. There are plenty of exercises online that fit every skillset, so don’t just conk out on the couch on those rainy days.
When you want to exercise with your beloved best friend, consider the above exercises today. If your dog isn’t into the first one you try, don’t push him! Have some patience, don’t push him too hard, and move on to a new exercise routine if he simply doesn’t enjoy it. Enjoy the time you spend with your dog while you both get the exercise you need to stay happy and healthy!