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Are you and your dog looking to get in shape and set some goals? Is your canine companion already your favourite workout buddy, but you’re looking for something new to try? Why not make a #JointResolution to look after your dog’s joint health and fitness as well as your own? Not only will consistent exercise help keep you both in tip top condition, but regular activity can help reduce problem behaviour (in dogs that is).
However, before you put on your active wear and call your dog over, there are some things you must consider first:
· Not all dogs are suitable for every type of exercise - do your research to check which exercises are is suitable for your dog.
· Consult your vet - whether you know your dog has a specific medical condition or not, you should check with your vet if the exercise you have in mind is appropriate for your dog. Puppies should not take part in any sort of intense exercise as their bones are still developing - your vet will be able to advise when your puppy is ready.
· A collar and lead might be a traditional combination, but for periods of increased activity like running a harness is much safer for you and your dog. Be sure to do your research first.
· If your exercise involves being outside, take some form of tick protection, especially during the peak tick seasons in Spring and Autumn. The Beaphar Tick Removal Kit is a handy pocket-sized product that can easily be taken with you.
· Stay hydrated - remember to take water for both of you, as well as a bowl for your dog.
· Stay visible - if you’re exercising in the evening make sure both you and your dog are wearing high-vis clothing/collar.
· Always keep an eye on your dog when exercising - they won’t be able to tell you if they feel tired. If they begin to lag behind, stop or lie down it’s a sign they need to take a breather.
Dogs and owners alike are familiar with ‘walkies’, and this is a good place for you and your dog to start, especially if you’re only just beginning an exercise regime. Taking your dog for a brisk walk is great exercise for both of you, and you can see the results as you begin to feel more comfortable walking further. Getting out and about for a walk is also a really good social activity, and will allow you and your dog to meet other dog owners and their pets.
If you’d like to take it to the next level you could try hiking. This is definitely an activity where you’d want to take tick protection and water, so before you set off make sure both are packed in a bag. Try to pick a route that has soft grass for your dog to walk on as some hiking routes can have uneven or rocky trails which could damage your dog’s paws.
Perhaps not the most vigorous activity for owners, but a fun way to improve your dog’s fitness levels. This pattern of running and resting is more suited to dogs, and will allow you to see more easily when they are beginning to tire. It’s also a good way to make a walk more interesting for you and your dog.
If you get out and go for a run why not take your dog? Special leads are available so you can attach your dog to you as you run, although you always should consider the size of your dog in relation to you – big dogs and small people shouldn’t be tethered together.
Dogs aren’t built for prolonged periods of running, so always keep an eye on your dog to make sure they aren’t tiring. If you normally go on a long run but aren’t comfortable taking you dog all the way round with you, why not have your dog accompany you for either your warm up or cool down? The surface should also be taken into account – running on pavement can cause pain in your dog’s paws, so where possible choose softer ground. And remember, for activities such as jogging a harness is a safer option for you and your dog.
Everyone will have seen dog shows featuring agility courses, but you don’t need to have the desire to compete to do an agility course with your dog. Set up some small jumps and obstacles in your garden and take your dog around them - not only will the course be a fun form of fitness for both of you, but it will also improve your dog’s response to voice commands and enhance your relationship. Watch your dog for signs of tiredness, and make sure that the jumps you set up are no higher than your dog’s elbow to prevent over-reaching and potential injury.
Swimming is a great for fitness as it gives your body a good workout while putting minimal strain on the joints, meaning it is particularly good for dogs prone to joint injury. Of course, the difficulty is that you can’t stroll on down to your local pool with your dog for a quick dip.
The countryside is filled with lakes, rivers and of course there is the sea, but it is a good idea to give them a quick assessment before letting your dog dive straight in. Stagnant water and any bodies of water with a greenish colour should be avoided by both people and pets due to the risk of bacteria or poisonous algae that could be present. Similarly, always check currents and depth before letting your dog dive in.
Thanks to Britain’s Got Talent everyone knows that it is possible for you to dance with your dog. Now, you won’t be able to teach your dog the Waltz or the Salsa, but learning a routine with your dog will help with bonding and give you a little bit of fun exercise at the same time.ble for you to dance with your dog. Now, you won’t be able to teach your dog the Waltz or the Salsa, but learning a routine with your dog will help with bonding and give you a little bit of fun exercise at the same time.