We all want to to squeeze in some outdoor activity when weather permits—even the dog! But for us pet owners, we often feel sorry heading out for some exercise as our pups whimper in the window watching us run down the road. Instead of facing the daily guilt trip, grab the leash and bring your buddy along. There are plenty of activities to enjoy that offer health benefits for both you and your dog. And if you live in an area near the ocean, beaches and boardwalks, in the off-season, often offer free entry for all two AND four-legged friends! Here are four ways to stay active with your dog and why:
Let’s go for walk! These are probably some of your dog’s favorite words. While it may seem obvious, daily walking really is one of the best healthy habits to build with your dog. Not only will it help them burn calories, but walking also helps build lean muscle mass, supports digestive health, and relieves stress. An exercised dog often equals a well-behaved dog. And better yet, regular walks will provide these same benefits for the human on the other end of the leash. Start an exercise plan for both you and your dog: Begin with short, slow-paced walks for a few days, and then increase the distance and pace as your pet’s endurance goes up. A healthy dog is a happy dog.
Having a four-legged running partner is a great way to keep both of you healthy while providing a sense of companionship and security. Once you and your pup have mastered the walking plan, consider stepping it up a notch. Think of it as a team effort—having a running partner will make both of you more motivated. Sniff out your favorite park or beach and head out for a jog. Once you and your dog get into the habit of regular jogging, he’ll be the one getting you off the couch! Before trying this, consider your pet’s breed and age. Healthy retrievers, dalmatians, and pit bulls typically do well with running if exposed in the correct manner, while breeds with shorter legs or noses can have trouble due their anatomy. Running may not be for all dogs, so always check with your vet before starting higher intensity workouts.
If you love scouting out new hiking spots with great company, this is activity for you. Chances are your area has tons of parks and hiking trails for you and your dog to enjoy. Hiking is a wonderful way to incorporate incline training into both of your routines. Incline workouts are particularly useful in building muscle tone, which is especially important in older dogs or less active breeds. Stronger muscles help to protect dogs against injuries sustained during normal exercise, such as fetch or getting up the stairs, and will generally help your dog get around better. Just as humans would, dogs look for variety in their activities. For those dogs (and owners) that are getting bored of the same old walk around the block, hiking provides a new environment that pleases both the body and mind.
Put the doggy in doggy paddling! Swimming is a low-impact activity suitable for both humans and canines that offers many health benefits. Water resistance makes your dog work harder to swim than he has to work on land, which helps to improve muscle strength and support the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. In fact, one minute of aquatic exercise equates to about four minutes of regular walking. Water workouts provide many of the same health benefits as land exercise without heavy impact, and can even be used as a therapeutic method for some dogs that struggle with regular exercise. As always, double check with your vet before bringing your pooch for a swim.
Whether it’s at the beach, boardwalk, or any other favorite location, be sure to get your dog out this week for some healthy fun!