If it weren’t for my dog, there would be many days I wouldn’t get outside. As my kids have grown into busy teenagers, it has gotten harder to convince them to walk with me due to their busy social lives. But my darling dog never denies my invite for exercise!
Your dog can actually make the most reliable exercise partner you’ve ever had — one that won’t cancel on you! It’s great motivation to get outside. And your pets need to get up and get moving for all the same reasons you do: Exercise boosts energy, helps maintain a healthy weight, keeps muscles toned and joints flexible, helps lengthen our lives and, above all, makes us feel better.
That’s why walking the dog is a win-win!
To help you make sure your pet gets safe, enjoyable exercise on a regular basis, I wanted to share these important pointers and reminders.
Health & safety tips for exercising with your pet
- Check with your vet first. Different pets require different amounts of exercise, so it’s best to contact your vet to determine a safe level of activity for your pet.
- Dogs should start off slow, just like people who aren’t used to exercise. Moderately paced walking is a good way to start so your canine athlete can build cardiovascular and muscle strength without putting undue stress on his joints. A daily 10 to 15 minute walk is a good start; you can build to 30 minutes a day if your pooch seems up to it. If, after a few months, he’s doing well and can handle long, fast walks without fatigue, he can graduate to jogging with you. Once he’s adapted to the exercise, you and your dog can run and walk to your heart’s content if you follow these other guidelines.
- Watch for any unusual signs of fatigue or trouble breathing. If your pup wants to stop, let him. Dogs, like adults, can overdo it!
- The more active your dog is, the more water he’ll need. Make sure he has plenty of fresh water before and after your run. If you’re going for a long run, take some water along for him and for yourself!
- Keep your furry friend on a leash when you run. Even the best-trained dogs can run into the path of a car or a territorial animal.
- Attach reflectors to your dog’s collar (as well as on your clothes) if you go for a run when it’s dark out.
- Concrete and asphalt are tough on the paws, especially on hot days. Gravel, cinders, and road salt can also irritate paws. Remember, your dog isn’t wearing tennis shoes.
Take it easy in extreme weather. If it’s freezing cold or hot and steamy out, either keep your run short or play a little indoor fetch instead.