Now that summer is here, we are spending more time outside and we are taking our workouts outside too, so when it comes to walking/running partners, it is hard to beat your dog. Your dog will never get caught in a meeting, cancel because of a cold or choose a must-see-TV marathon over a long walk and the fact that dogs love walks is good for us too. Listed below are ways walking with Fido will keep you fit:
DOGS KEEP YOU MORE ACTIVE
A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that 60% of dog owners who took their dogs for regular walks met the minimum federal recommendations (150 minutes) for moderate exercise per week. And, thanks to Fido, almost half of dog walkers exercised at least 30 minutes per day, five days per week. Only 1/3 of non-dog owners got that much exercise.
DOGS ENCOURAGE YOU TO WALK FASTER
Dogs influence more than the amount of activity you get each week. Researchers at the University of Missouri found that walking a dog increased walking speed 28% compared with just a 4% increase when walking with a friend.
DOGS FORCE CONSISTENCY
When you have a dog as a walking/running partner, you are more likely to stick to your plan. Just as studies have shown cardiovascular exercise can alleviate mild to moderate depression in humans, it can also help with anxious behavior in dogs.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR DOG FOR SERIOUS WALKING OR RUNNING
For short walks around the block, grabbing the leash and telling your dog it’s time to go is often enough, but going for longer walks (or runs) takes training and a little caution. If you have never run before, you are not going to start out doing five miles. You need to build yourself and your dog up to go longer distances. A Couch to 5K-like program is a great approach for training your dog to go longer distances or faster speeds. Start slow, integrating running intervals into your walks. Your dog will build up endurance gradually.
KNOW YOUR DOG
While dogs ranging from teacup Yorkies to Great Danes love to go for walks, some dogs were not made for distance or speed so you have to know your dog. Short-legged dogs like dachshunds might have trouble keeping up. Short-nosed breeds like pugs might have trouble breathing on a run. Older dogs and dogs with health issues like arthritis or hip dysplasia are better suited to leisurely strolls in the park rather than high-speed or long-distance jaunts. Younger, active dogs in good health tend to be the best choices for long walks and runs. But puppies younger than 18 months, whose bones are still developing are too young to safely run with you. It’s a good idea to get the green light from your vet before signing up for a dog-friendly 5K, or just embarking on a walking/running routine. Just like you would do before you start an exercise regimen, it is crucial that you take your dog to your veterinarian, get a good physical and discuss your exercise goals.
SIGNS OF FATIGUE
During a long walk or run, keep a close watch on your dog. If your dog starts to slow down, falls back, tries to make a break for the shade or lie down in the grass, your dog is probably tired or overheated. Some panting is normal but excessive panting is a sign of exhaustion. You need to watch for signs you are pushing too hard. Most important, watch for signs that your dog likes running with you. Your dog should act excited and ready to go when the leash comes out. If your dog hides at the sight of the leash or needs to be pulled along, it’s better to leave your dog at home. As long as your dog is raring to go and walking or running out in front of you or by your side, you are good. If they are lagging or resisting, stop.
HOW TO WALK/RUN WITH YOUR DOG
For longer walks, take extra water for your dog, you are not the only one who needs to stay hydrated during exercise. If you are walking at night, use a reflective leash or collar to make your dog more visible. After long walks or runs, check your dog’s paws for blisters (dogs can get them, too) and give your dog a break until they heal.
Long walks and runs are great exercise for both you and your dog and a fun way to spend time together, and so is plenty of rest for your dog between walks or runs! Also, if you have questions as to why your dog does certain things, need recommendations for the best dry food (or recommendations for the best dry food for a special needs dog), need recommendations for the best dog shampoo or are looking for dog accessories (such as harnesses, collars, seat covers, toys and more), then check out Why Do Pets where you can find advice, answers to your questions and the best accessories for your best friend and until next time, be happy, healthy and beautiful!
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