Exercising with pets can be a great way to kill two birds with one stone: you get in your exercise and your pet is also getting exercise and socialization. Dogs will especially hold you accountable because they thrive off of routine and always love and remember recurring time spent with you. Do you ever notice that like clockwork your dog is grabbing their leash or waiting by the door anticipating for their usual exercise?
Though sometimes we might be lazy or maybe have talked ourselves out of going for a run that morning and hitting snooze a couple of times, your pet’s energy is contagious and they are ready to get out of bed or off of the couch and get their run in.
There are many activities you can do with your pet besides just walking and running. You can ride bikes with them and have a special leash that hooks on to the center of your bike. Some other activities include kayaking, working out at the Dog Park while they play, rollerblading, and running with your dog while playing fetch.
Before you start exercising with your dog it’s important that you know their specific breed’s needs and constraints. For example, I have a mastiff called Kairo which is an extra-large breed who needs lots of physical activity. Smaller dogs like pugs also have energy, but tend to have breathing problems due to their short noses—so be extra sure to keep an eye on them as you exercise.
Exercise for all dogs is crucial for their behavior and for their overall health. Without enough exercise, dogs tend to act out by getting into the trash or attacking your favorite pair of shoes or furniture if they are left alone with built up energy and no release for it.
Some pet parents overspend on training and obedience school because they feel that their dog is acting out is their normal behavior when in reality, he/she may just need more mental stimulation and physical activity with you. This is a great excuse for you to get extra cardio and quality time with the ultimate workout partner that will never leave you hanging.
You care about the weather when you go out to exercise. Why shouldn’t it be the same when you go out with your pet? During hot summer days you have to be careful with proper hydration for yourself and your pet.
It’s important to make sure the concrete or pavement is not too hot for your fur baby’s paw pads. I advise weather over 90 degrees to be the threshold for whether my mastiff and I go for a walk that day. If you are unsure, hold the back of your hand to pavement. If you can’t hold your hand on pavement for five seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog.
The length of your workout will depend on a couple factors when training with your pet: the terrain on which you’re on, the temperature/humidity, the size and weight of your pet, the overall health and age of you and your pet. Even though my mastiff is 130 pounds, he is not overweight. He is only two years old, extremely athletic, and runs at the dog park at least twice a week. I like to walk and jog with my dog so he doesn’t get overheated and isn’t panting and slobbering over the AC vent for hours after we get home. If your dog is getting foamy or extra slobbery during the workout, it is not cause for imminent concern, but they probably need water. All this foam means is that a dog is expending more energy, breathing becomes shorter and more rapid and when combined with the air this slobber becomes foamy or frothy.
Good places to go for a walk or run with your dog can be simply around your neighborhood, a local forest preserve, or you can take them to the dog park and utilize a picnic table for your own body weight workout while they play. You can bring a yoga mat and use the top of the table for planks, pushups and other body weight movements. The bench of the picnic table can be used for jump squats, step ups, or high knees and much more.
Here’s a sample workout for about 3-5 rounds you can do with your pet:
Kairo and I love to go to a forest preserve near our house. Sometimes when there are no dogs at the park, I will hook his leash up to the picnic table in the shade and get my work out on. In between rounds I will jog around the lake with him for an active rest. He usually enjoys the break while I do my resistance training and gets a drink, but is ready to go again when I’m done.
Another workout I like to do is throwing Kairo’s ball as far as I can into the field and run to where I saw it drop. He usually runs back to me but continues to chase me while I go where the ball originally landed before he picks it up. Once I get to the spot I will do 20-30 squats and throw the ball again before doing another exercise. I usually do this one for a time limit, such as as many rounds as possible for 20 min.
Studies have shown that people with dogs are 34% more active than individuals who do not. Physically and emotionally, a pet needs exercise and stress relief just like we do. Remember, the better you treat your body and your best friend’s body, the longer you both will live together.