Man’s best friend used to be man’s worst enemy. Around one hundred thousand years ago, wolves used to be humanity’s enemy. Competitors for food and often our predators and vice versa. At some time in the distant past, we settled our differences and the rest is history.
That being said, dogs have adopted a lot of our lifestyles and unfortunately, both humans and dogs have gotten sedentary which means getting out of shape, getting fat, and all the related diseases. All is not lost, however, as there are ways for humans and dogs to workout and do so together.
Dogs are more than just pets
Anyone watching YouTube or surfing Facebook or any of the other social media venues will see multiple images and videos of dogs being treated as though they were human. They’ll show up wearing sweaters and dresses, hats and sportswear and even baby clothes. Dogs now eat a the table and have their own indoor beds and so on. This has led to far too many dogs getting out of shape and costing their owners quite a good penny paying the veterinarians for treatments.
Dogs get similar diseases to humans who are sedentary and overweight. Like humans, dogs are hunters and are designed to travel great distances to pursue game. Since the farthest a dog has to travel to eat nowadays is about 5 feet to their food dish, dogs don’t get the exercise they need.
Why You Should Exercise The Dog
Dogs get diseases just like humans and treating these diseases can be costly. Many dogs are put down or abandoned because the owners can’t afford to have them treated and they can’t stand the thought of watching the animal die a miserable death.
This has led to far too many shelter dogs that are overwhelming the shelters and the dogs are then put to sleep. This need not be the case as many of these illnesses can be averted through proper exercises and nutrition.
The Human Dog Workout
It’s easy to see that there are many activities that your dog can engage in. We’ll take a look at the many of them that are safe and rewarding. Of note, it is of importance to realize that any endurance exercises like running and walking have to be done carefully. Dogs may be fast and have four legs, but humans can walk and run farther than dogs 1.
Matter of fact, humans are the one animal that will run down any land animal. We’re not speedy, but we do have that wind. Taking this into account, it means keeping an eye on your dog so it won’t overdo things.
Running With Your Dog
Now that you know that dogs and humans aren’t alike in the running department, you can plan a way of running with your dog that will bring about benefits.
First of all, running on pavement isn’t a good idea but if that’s all you have, then fine. Just watch out for the temperatures of the concrete. We wear shoes, dogs don’t. Too hot or too cold can cause discomfort and damage.
Use a simple pace that gets the heart pumping and breathing deep but invigorating. Don’t let the dog establish the pace, but instead train the dog to follow your lead. Both of you need to keep the pace going for at least 30 minutes as that’s just the right amount of time to burn off those excess calories and benefit in respiration and cardiovascular.
Depending on the size of the dog, if the dog can run with you fine. If it’s too big or too small, you’ll need to come up with a vigorous exercise that gets the dog running.
Teaching a dog to fetch doesn’t have to be a one-way street. NormallYou can double the action by playing fetch and running along with the dog to see who can get to the ball or Frisbee first.
Don’t just play fetch on a flat plane. Look for a hill for the dog to run up on and down. This will give more of a challenge for both of you. You might even get a friend to toss the ball, stick, or toy for both of you to fight over. It may look silly, but you will both get winded pretty soon.
Playing fetch in the water is a triple workout. Dogs can’t swim as fast as humans, but they can swim farther. Tossing a toy out and both of you going for it will be one busting out a workout.
There are many variations on fetching so use your imagination and good sense and you’ll both not only get a great workout but have the time of your lives.
As mentioned above, swimming is indeed one awesome workout for man and dog. Dogs love playing in the water and will play as long as you will. This is where you need some caution as dogs can’t swim as long as humans.
Your pool won’t have the distractions that a park would have and it usually is easier to measure distance and time. This will give you the statistics you can use for planning better exercise regimens and your doctor and vet will appreciate the statistics too.
Walking Both Of You
As with running, walking is a great way of low impact exercise. Dogs love to explore their environment and get social. A brisk walk will increase circulation and respiration and metabolism just like running but less intense.
A good walking regimen calls for finding the softest ground you can. If you only have concrete, just like with running, make sure it’s not too hot nor too cold. Watch out for debris too.
Find a friendly yet challenging route to walk on. Enough to keep your exercise regimen interesting so the You’ll, of course, run into other people and dogs and wildlife. Dogs that live indoors may be startled to see another dog or squirrel or cat. They can bolt so make sure you’ve got them leashed as you’ll have to teach them to be friendly and not shoot off at everything they see scampering about.
If you run into another person with a dog, it’ll be social time, but you can’t allow for too much rest. You both need to keep going so say your ‘Howdy do’s’ and keep on keeping on.
Keep statistics on both of you to see the gains made and after a while you’re the dog and you will be more enthusiastic about your workouts making them never a boring chore.
Bicycling or skateboarding or any exercise that calls for you rolling along with your dog is lots of fun. The dog and you get an amazing cardio and respiratory workout and your dog will love it.
The speeds you’ll reach will match that of the dog’s top speed if the dog is normal sized, but not for small dogs. They’ll tire easy and sometimes won’t show exhaustion because they’re so busy trying to keep up and please you.
Be mindful of your dog’s behavior. If they’re prone to run errantly, then wheeled exercise isn’t a good idea. They’ll bolt after other animals and wheeled objects. A leash can be used but you run the risk of the animal getting tangled up with you and you both end up going for a spill.
There are some new types of leashes out there that allow for one to use while engaging in wheeled sports. Ask a local pet store or surf online for them.
A Ball Is All It Take
Animals, just like humans, cannot resist a ball. From dogs to elephants, a ball is an all day play thing that will get both you and your dog so worn out that you’ll wonder how you could live without one.
It doesn’t even matter what size the ball is. From mouth size to basketball size, a ball is something that bounces, rolls, and basically is a ton of fun.
Kickball aka soccer is the ball game of choice. Both of you running around hitting the ball out of reach or at one another will work up a great sweat for you and burn off tons of calories for both of you.
Dogs will play with a ball until they’re exhausted so keep a close eye on the dog throughout.
Safety Is Important
Any exercise regimen calls for consulting your physician first. Same with your dog. Have the vet give the dog the once over and inform the vet of what kind of exercises you’ll put the dog through. Veterinarians will be up on the latest info regarding animal exercising and will alert you to any hazards.
Nutrition is also important as a safety measure. If you want to wear off those extra calories then nutrition is a major factor. Lowering caloric intake and eating foods that are high in vitamins and minerals are essential. Dogs require different nutritional needs so your vet will know what to feed them and when.
On warm and hot days, you’ll need to bring enough water to keep both of you hydrated. Don’t use tap water. There are recommendations to what water products you should use and there are home recipes from well-established dog owners and trainers. You can even find a harness to put on your dog that will allow them to carry their water and yours.
Remember, a dog doesn’t sweat. It pants instead. Hot weather is just as dangerous to a dog as it is to any other living creature. Don’ overdo things and definitely don’t go out exercising in the extreme heat together.
Exercising with your best furry friend can be something so enjoyable that it can become the center of both your days. Once you both have established your regimens, they’ll become second nature and you won’t have any reservations about exercising at all.
In the end, you’ll both look good and feel good, prevent several diseases and maladies, and have all the fun in the world.
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Sources & References
- All Men Can’t Jump (Slate.com By David Stipp) Why nearly every sport except long-distance running is fundamentally absurd.