Friday, February 8, 2013

Guest Post: Keeping Fit With Your Canine

Today we have another guest post by Missi Harris, freelance writer and senior-dog mom. This one focuses on burning some calories with your canine--gotta keep everyone in tip-top shape. Bathing suit season will be here before you know it! By the way, this article totally made me excited for K9 Kamp

I'm also hoping this will inspire me to do some exercise with Desmond. I have more or less completely stopped walking him, because his reactivity has landed somewhere between Really Bad and Off The Charts. I physically cannot handle him at this point. It's extremely frustrating, particularly in combination with all the other stuff we have going on here in Hurricane Sandy Displacement Land, and I think we're going to have no choice but to call in the help of another trainer when we one day get settled back into our home. 

But, hey, the least I can do is find another way to play and bond and keep us both healthy, right?

Keeping Fit With Your Canine

Currently the world seems to be focused on facts and figures about obesity rates, causing many people to scrutinize their everyday lives and seek where they could fit in more exercise, especially going outdoors to maximize the feeling of doing something worthwhile. Many people, however, overlook an excellent exercise helper that they have within their own home – a dog! Both you and your dog need exercise, and what better way to get it than together? It doesn’t just need to be a daily walk; there are many exercises you can participate in with your dog.

The Daily Walk
He makes it look easy, no?
(image source)
Every pet owner knows it is essential for a dog, whether young or old, to get plenty of exercise every day to keep the animals weight under control, and to burn off some excess energy. Sadly however, many pet owners are beginning to see this walk as a chore, so it can be nice to break it up into multiple walks; especially good for very young or very old dogs as they do not cope as easily with the strain of walking for long periods of time. Try walking the dog for 5 to 10 minutes, two or three times a day to allow the exercise to be beneficial. For dogs in their prime a longer daily walk is much more effective, allowing the dog to raise its heart rate, therefore boosting its metabolism. A walk of this kind should be 20 to 30 minutes in length, allowing both the owner and dog to feel the benefits of their daily walks. If you’re feeling very energetic and your dog seems the same, try going for a jog together, this will increase both of your heart rates, making it a very effective method of exercise for all parties involved.

Workout With Your Dog
There are a few brilliant workout exercises that you can include in your daily regime to get your dog involved and keep you both fit and healthy. Try doing sit-ups with your dog with its favorite toy in your hand. Make sure you have the dog's attention then get into position, holding the toy in your hand, each time you reach the upright position lift the hand holding the toy and pretend to throw it; your dog will attempt to chase it only to realize it is still in your hand. Keep doing this until your dog no longer shows interest or you have completed the set number of reps.

Another effective way to get some toning exercise in with your dog is by playing a tease game with him or her whilst you do squats. Similar to the first exercise, get the attention of your dog with its favorite toy then hold it firmly in your hand; move into a squatting position then tap your dog with the toy, raising your hand up above your head as your rise up, causing your dog to jump for the toy. Continue this until you are done or until your dog gets bored of the game.

Jumping for joy? I'll say. (image source)
This next one doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, however it is a brilliant way to tone up your own body and keep your dog in shape too. Head to a long flight of stairs, these can be within your home or outside, and walk up and down them with your dog a number of times. Vary the way you walk up the stairs – try walking normally the first time then take two steps at once; this keeps both you and your dog on your toes and helps to burn off some calories.

A fun one to finish that is ideal for people who have a dog that loves playing fetch – why not race your dog to the stick, toy or ball? This is a great way to increase both of your heart rates, whilst giving you both bonding time together and having fun whilst doing so. If you have a fast dog who will generally always beat you to the thrown item, include wrestling it away from them and throwing it again as part of the exercise, or even try some fake throws in there too, tiring your dog out a little to give yourself more of a chance.

Exercising with your dog can be a brilliant way to drop a few pounds and tone up, or just to keep in shape. It is also allowing your dog to get the best exercise possible as well as bond with you whilst doing so, allowing your canine to appreciate your company more. Next time you feel too lethargic to workout, try getting your dog involved, it may work wonders for you both!

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