If your goal is to spend more time outdoors and get some exercise, don’t forget your pooch; he or she will benefit from the exercise, too. (Remember, it’s always best to check with your dog’s veterinarian before starting an exercise program.) Here are some activities that you and Fido can enjoy together:
Walking with your dog
Of course, walking your dog is at the top of the list. Some people would only be outside for the space of time it takes to walk to a parking space then into a store and back again if it weren’t for their best friends with 4-legs. Not only is walking your dog good exercise for you and the pooch, it will make Fido’s life a whole lot more interesting, also. Have you noticed how excited dogs get when you mention the word walk? Dogs are thinking, “Oh boy! It’s time for an adventure!” Walking gives your pup exercise and stimulates his brain, too. For you, the human, walking helps you burn calories and melt stress at the same time.
Hiking with your dog
Once you and your dog have been conditioned with walks, try a dog-friendly trail outside of the city. Start out on a short hike and work your way up to longer ones. Pack plenty of water. Fido can pack his own by carrying his own pack. If your dog will be drinking water directly from water sources in the wild, it’s a good idea to check with your dog’s vet regarding a leptospirosis vaccine.
There is nothing like experiencing the sights and scents of the great outdoors. We live in one of the most beautiful areas on the planet, and it’s still pretty wild around here. If dogs are allowed off-leash and you set Fido free, you need to have excellent verbal command to bring him back quickly. You don’t want your dog chasing after wildlife or confronting a moose who decides to share the trail. Also, be aware that in the state of Idaho wildlife traps are allowed to be close to public land trails, just 5 feet from the center of the trail. Then there are the others on the trail, besides the occasional moose. Other hikers may not appreciate your “friendly” and unfamiliar dog running up to greet them. Unless you have a well-trained and obedient dog, keep him safe on a leash. He’ll have a great time nevertheless.
Running with your dog
If you want to take it up a notch or two from walking, try running with your dog. Make sure that you and the pup are up to this level of exercise. Be sure to start off slowly, for both of your sakes. It’s best to keep your best friend on a leash and, typically, it’s the law. There are leashes that will fit around your waist so that your hands are free.
Dogs need to build up strength and stamina just as we do. In addition, pads need to toughen up gradually. A good rule of thumb – if your dog can walk briskly for 20-30 minutes without tiring, you can start him on a jog. Begin with short, easy runs and then progress to longer ones. Your pal will be eager to please and will be thrilled to be out running with you. Watch your dog closely. If you see him struggling or tiring, slow down to a walk.
For safety reasons, make sure you teach your dog how to heel. Keeping your companion at your side is essential. If your dog is pulling, you will be thrown off balance. Fido needs to understand to keep pace beside you, and your canine fitness partner should be capable of following the commands “sit” and “stay” at intersections.
Tips for your exercise partner’s health and safety:
- Keep toenails trimmed to avoid snagging on twigs or branches.
- Carry plenty of water and offer it to your dog frequently. Never force him/her to drink. Teach your dog how to drink from a water bottle or carry a portable doggie dish.
- Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags in case you become separated.
- Never run in the heat of the day. Dogs dehydrate more quickly than humans.
- Asphalt retains heat even after the sun goes down and can burn a dog’s pads.
- If jogging at twilight, wear reflectors, both you and your dog. (Some leashes and collars are made of reflective material.)
- Feed your dog after a run.
- Check paws pads after each run for blisters, tears, or tenderness. If you notice tenderness, raw spots, or bleeding, give him a few days off from running.
- For young pups and big dogs of any age sustained jogging or running is too hard on the joints.
Exercise Benefits for Your Dog
- Decreases risk of heart disease
- Helps lessen digestive problems and leads to proper weight maintenance
- Helps curb negative behaviors, such a chewing, barking, digging, and anxiety
- Leads to a healthier, more agile, and longer life
When you can’t get out with your dog, doggie daycare is a great alternative. Need help with basic commands and obedience? We have training classes. Also, our groomers can help with keeping your dog’s nails trimmed, Monday – Saturday from 10 am – 2pm, no appointment necessary. For more information, give us a call at 208-667-4646.