Amanda Burrill is fitness enthusiast and chef. She is a proud parent of two rescue pups and is a guest blogger on DoggyBnB focusing on fitness and fun with your pet. Check out her blog Aprons & Sneakers or catch her if you can on Twitter and Instagram
It’s common knowledge that obesity affects humans, but 40 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight too. And just the same as in humans, being overweight creates health risks. The good news is that you and your best friend can attack a fitness regimen together. Go team!
Research suggests that those who exercise with their pets are more likely to stick to a program. So figure out your goals, pick a workout, and get moving!
A trip to the vet for a check-up is recommended before starting your buddy on an exercise regimen.
Our Favorite Low Impact Workouts
Walking and Hiking – At a decent clip this is the most ideal exercise for owner and pet. Walking helps lower blood pressure, strengthens the heart, helps raise bone density and lowers the risk of depression.
Robin, a DoggyBnB user, has a high-energy Jack Russell Terrier named Eddie. To wear out his energy and give him a chance to socialize with other dogs, they hit the trails. “We go on one or two long walks, anywhere from 1-2 miles each, every day. Even during the winter we get all bundled up and head out.” Their routine is so regular, Eddie would be sad to miss a day. And look how fit, handsome and happy he is.
Frisbee – All the rage right now, Frisbee can be played in the comfort of your back yard or by joining a formal “Disc Dog” team, where competition factors into the motivation to practice. Frisbee is a classic canine workout and helps build a trusting relationship with your pet.
Doga – Downward Dog takes on a whole new meaning with these classes that incorporate Fido into Hatha yoga poses. Because the pet doesn’t get as much exercise, Doga is better for strengthening the owner-pet bond and working on obedience.
Our Favorite High Impact Workouts
Running/Jogging – Running and jogging offers a great cardiovascular workout, but not all dogs should be out running. If you’re a sprinter, bringing a Greyhound to the track for short sprints is ideal, but for a longer jog, a Labrador is more appropriate. Wait until the dog is full-grown and gradually build up to a 30-minute jog, leaving time for a warm up and cool down. Remember, dogs can’t sweat so avoid overly hot or humid weather and pay close attention to your dog’s behavior.
Dog Park – Off leash play at a local dog park gives many dogs bliss! It’s a chance to play fetch, hang out with the “neighborhood dogs” and socialize, and stimulate the mind through exploration and new smell investigation. Dog owners will get a great workout trying to keep up. The good news is that, at a dog park, whoever gets pooped can just sit down and take a breather! My pup Moxie needs a break every now and then after a non-stop ball session.
Agility Training – If you sense a competitive edge in your best friend, some agility training may be just the thing. In this popular goal-oriented sport, the dog races through obstacles (ladders, tunnels, hurdles) with you running alongside to offer praise and encouragement. The pace makes for a great cardio workout and your dog also learns about coordination and obedience. There are public agility courses available, or you can set one up in your own backyard.
Remember to first see a vet and start slow with a new plan (that goes for owners AND pets) and always stay hydrated and aware out in the elements. My clever pup Biscuit hid under my car to cool off when driving through the desert.
Certain pets may need special precautions, for example deeper chested breeds such as Doberman and Danes, should avoid exercise after a meal.
Last but not least, on tough terrain, it doesn’t hurt to invest in a pair of dog booties. Fido’s paws will thank you for it!