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Get fit with your dog today: 9 great ways to exercise with your dog

Author: Canadian Living

Pets

Get fit with your dog today: 9 great ways to exercise with your dog

When your dog is bored, he'll eat, because there's not a whole lot else for him to do – like you when you're watching TV and throwing back a pint of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia or eating an entire bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, just to keep yourself occupied. I mean, I wouldn't know; I never do that, but I've heard about people who do. In any case, the best way to keep your dog occupied is to exercise with him!

There's no "recommended daily dose" of puppercise, but your vet can give you some guidelines, and you can also read up on your dog's breed. A Yorkshire terrier will have different workout needs from a golden retriever—but every pooch needs exercise!

Walking
My friend Max always tells me, "Wendy, you gotta walk before you can run." Usually he's referring to relationships (so of course I ignore him, because it's obvious that the best approach to take with those is to sprint as fast as Jackie Joyner-Kersee), but he's got it right when it comes to exercise. Walking your dog is free, easy, and fun.

Just because you're doing something simple like walking doesn't mean you have to walk the same old route every day. Variety is the spice of dog life too. Take mini-adventures, go hiking, check out the park by the water, or meet up with a friend in another neighborhood for a doggie date.

Running
If you and your Dalmatian are ready to go for the gold and begin a running program, go for it. But start slowly. Don't try to run a half marathon your first day out the door. Your best friend could seriously injure himself, and you're not 400-meter gold medalist LaShawn Merritt, either. To start, try a walking and running combination routine. Walk a little, jog a little, check out the cutie to the right a little.

You can also check out your local running club. Many clubs accept furry members, and this is a great way to meet other exercise enthusiasts. Or, if you prefer to take the solo route, there are millions of training programs available in books or online.

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Excerpted from from It's a Dog's World by Wendy Diamond Copyright © 2010 by Wendy Diamond. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Swimming
Once I went to visit my friend Millie, who lives in the beautiful, untouched wilderness with four one-hundred-pound rescue dogs. Millie woke me up early every morning and the first order of business (pre- coffee, mind you; I honestly don't know how she does it) was to sprint to the nearby pond for the pooches to take a dip. She threw a ball or stick in the water and the dogs would race to fetch it. They would bring it to Millie who would repeat the process.

For an hour and a half.

They had the same routine at lunch.

And at dinner.

Now that I think about it, I can't really remember why I'm still friends with her.

Here are some tips to get you and your dog off to a swimming start. First, find a clean body of water – no doggie paddling in the Hudson, please – and approach it with your dog. If your dog seems interested, try leading him up to the water and encouraging him to get his feet wet. If he's not crazy about the idea, chances are he isn't going to be into full immersion. Give him some time and lots of praise during this process. If he turns out to be interested in H2O, try throwing a floatable toy into the water to encourage him to give the ol' doggie paddle a try. Make sure to keep an eye out for jellyfish and broken bottles.

Perhaps walking, running, and swimming just aren't cutting it for you and your dog. There are other types of doggie exercise out there that you can both enjoy. Lucky and I must warn you, though, these two activities are not for the faint of heart. They are for energetic, athletic, and well-trained dogs (that goes for their humans, too).

Flyball
Flyball is a sport in which teams of dogs race against one another from the starting line, over a line of hurdles, to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught when the dogs press the spring-loaded pad—and then back to their handlers while carrying the ball. Try Googling 'flyball' plus the name of your city to find a local team and learn more about this fast-paced sport.


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Excerpted from from It's a Dog's World by Wendy Diamond Copyright © 2010 by Wendy Diamond. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Agility
Let's say that running in straight lines and jumping hurdles isn't your dog's thing. If you like obstacle courses, agility could be just right. There are all sorts of different obstacle courses, and the hallmark is that the human leads the dog through the obstacle course (sorry, parents, no cheering from the sidelines in this sport). Whoever makes it the fastest with the fewest mistakes wins. Agility is open to any breed, too, purebred or mixed, so there's really no excuse not to participate.

Doga
Believe it or not, puppies practice yoga instinctively. Dogs – and animals in general – stretch their bodies naturally and can actually guide you through some serious sun salutations. Haven't you ever heard of the downward dog pose? Looks like Spike stretching after he wakes up from a nap! Note: leotard optional for pooch.

Doggie surfing
Before you get ready to hang ten with your buddy, make sure he likes water (see swimming section). Then try getting him to stand on a board on dry land. Next, move to the water. Put him on the board and let him get used to the new sensation. He might be more comfortable lying down on the board at first.

Now, if you think you could no sooner teach your best friend to surf yourself than become the queen of England or invent a time travel machine, there are professional dog surfing coaches. And yes, they offer classes for humans, too!

Skateboarding
I don't recommend trying skateboarding at home unless you're with a canine skateboarding professional, but I do hear from all of the skateboarding dog parents that I have met – you can find most of them on YouTube, and of course skateboarder Rob Dyrdek's pup is a skateboarding pro – that once your dog learns to skate, he will never want to stop. Lucky says skateboards are far too declasse for her, but with the help of a retractable leash and a harness some dogs will never step away.

Doggie boot camp
If you can find a doggie boot camp, they'll lead your dog through ruff workouts and obedience training for hours at a time. If there is no organized boot camp class in your area, you can create your own. Play exercise fetch – while your dog is retrieving, you are doing push-ups, sit-ups, or squats, unless the cute guy from the laundromat happens to be there, in which case you flirt with him.

Find some more great pet advice here.


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Excerpted from from It's a Dog's World by Wendy Diamond Copyright © 2010 by Wendy Diamond. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Get fit with your dog today: 9 great ways to exercise with your dog

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