Your Dog, Your Workout Buddy

If you own a dog, an exercise routine is just a leash away.

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Annette Vivian walking with Snoopy and Rocco. Photo courtesy Annette Vivian.

If there was a way to avoid exercise, I found it.

Aerobics? Bad knees.

Personal trainer? Too expensive.

Treadmill? No room.

Then one day my husband Mike challenged me. “There’s one exercise I bet you can’t dismiss. Walking. It’s free, easy, and you don’t need any special equipment.”

He had me there.

Plus, there’s another advantage to walking that he didn’t mention. I could do it with my dog!

Ever since I realized that my dog Kelly and I had some pounds to lose, we’ve been working together to get fit. When I first started dieting with my dog, I paid attention to our calories and chose healthier meals and snacks. Next, it was time to discover ways to exercise together.

At first I thought that walking around the block was the only exercise I could do with her. Then I met people who were doing all variety of physical activities with their dogs!

Here are some ideas you might try:

  • Running (if you and your dog are able)
  • Hiking
  • Obstacle course running
  • Stair climbing
  • Swimming
  • Playing tag
  • Participating in walks for good causes
  • Participating in dog agility contests

Be sure to check with your veterinarian before starting a new activity with your dog. Here are some tips from the The Dieting with My Dog Guide to Weight Loss and Maintenance:

  • Always provide plenty of water. If you are hot, your dog is hotter. Stay in the shade on sunny days.
  • If your dog is not used to exercise, treat him like a beginner. Introduce him to exercises with short sessions a few times per week. Increase the duration and frequency slowly as your dog becomes more fit.
  • Allow a couple of hours between feeding and exercise.
  • When outdoors, keep your dog on the grass, or protect your dog’s paws from hot pavement, hard surfaces, and broken glass with boots or paw covers.
  • Be careful not to overwork your dog. Understand her capabilities, and consider your dog’s health, age and activity level. Don’t force your dog to do something she is not enjoying. Switch to a different activity.

Want another great way to workout with your dog? In many places throughout the country, there are special classes and gyms you can go to exercise with your dog, such as K9Fit Club, started by Tricia Montgomery. (Read her inspiring story here).

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