One of the many benefits of owning a dog is that they keep you active. Physical activity does more than help you maintain or lose weight. Exercising is known to help you relieve stress, make you feel happier, and make you feel more focused. This quality time also strengthens the bond between you and your dog. There are many ways to exercise together.
Walking is good for joint health and strengthening muscles. The new sights and smells to be discovered outside are great stimulants for both you and your dog. It is also a good way for your dog to socialize with others. Be conscious about weather when walking with your dog. If you can’t keep your hand on the ground for longer than 10 seconds on a hot day, the pavement is too hot for your dog’s paws. Also, avoid letting your dog walk on snow or ice that has been salted. The salt and chemicals can stay on their feet and can be toxic when they try to lick it off. These weather rules apply to all forms of outdoor exercise with your dog.
When you start running with your dog, be patient. They may be used to the frequent stops of a walk and it will take time for them to adjust to a new pace. Ease into running, warming up with a walk and a slow jog before picking up the pace. Just like humans, building endurance will take time, so be aware of their limits. Even after your dog builds up stamina, most dogs should only run between two and five miles. If you, as a runner, go further than this, take your dog home after they have reached their limit and continue the end of your run while they rest.
Running with your dog is great exercise, but it does come with cautions. Keep in mind that smaller dogs can’t always keep up with your pace because of their small legs, and larger dogs may be more prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis. Brachycephalic dogs, or flat-faced breeds like Bulldogs or Pugs, may have trouble breathing while running. Be cautious about running with puppies, as excessive exercise can damage their still-growing bones and joints. If you have any questions about running with your dog, talk to your veterinarian for specific recommendations.
Hiking on new trails means new and exciting sniffs for your dog. When hiking on trails, always go prepared. Make sure to bring plenty of water and food for both of you. Many owners bring collapsible water bowls that are easier to carry. Research ahead of time which trails are dog friendly and which require leashes and harnesses. After your adventure, examine your dog’s paws to make sure they don’t have cuts or injuries from the rocks, sticks, and uneven paths. Also check to make sure they don’t have any ticks.
Yoga with your dog, also known as “doga,” has recently become a trend for exercising and relaxing with your dog. Yoga is good for your circulation, relaxation, and stress relief. It is also a simple way to stay active in the comfort of your own home. Some yoga studios even offer classes where you can bring your dog. Many yoga poses, such as downward dog, were inspired by animals’ movements. While your dog can’t do the exact poses, they may mimic your actions by lying beside you and rolling over. Their breathing may even fall in sync with yours. Dogs may not have perfect chaturangas, but the time spent focused on breathing and being still can be relaxing and beneficial for both of you.
These are a few of the many ways to stay active with your dog. When exercising with them, be creative, and stay conscious of what their bodies can handle.