Make use of the “New year, new resolutions” slogan as an inspiration to transform your everyday routine of walking your dog into a workout, which by the way, could be an amazingly fun activity for the two of you if done right. But the question is how?
All this while you must have thought that walking your dog is another one of those daily chores that you just cannot skip. Because in the end, when you see that sad look on your furry friend’s face after a walk-less day, that’s perhaps the most painful thing for you. Walks are not just for stimulation and bonding; it’s also about fulfiling the promise that you made to your furry friend before bringing him or her to your house.
Therefore, it doesn’t really have to be another part of your daily grind. When something becomes regular, you need to make it interesting.
Read on to find out how you can possibly turn your dog walking activity into a workout.
Put Some Work into the Workout
Beyond any doubt, walking is definitely one of the easiest and best forms of exercise. But for the walk to be a fitness building experience, you’ll need to go that extra mile. Do some strength building and flexibility exercises to give yourself a good fitness routine.
Bear it in mind that when it comes to exercising with your dog, you need to maintain a moderate intensity. Wait, what? This means that you must follow some strategies for turning your dog walk into a fitness workout. Below, we have listed some of the approaches that you can implement on different days a week and see how that works.
- Step up your pace
You probably must have already done this before a few times before, but how about you make it a regular thing? Apparently, warm up for at least 5 – 10 minutes and then challenge yourself to walk at a faster pace than usual. See how that works.
- Go long
There’s no harm in increasing your distance. Some days you could just walk for long hours and longer distance than you normally would.
- Try intervals
Interval training is all about fixing a timer. Say, for instance, you work out from 30 seconds to several minutes at a higher intensity and then take rest. In case of walking, you could probably walk fast or jog for one whole block and get your heartbeat to rise up and then the next two blocks would be just walking at average speed. Recover your heart rate and then again try the higher intensity. Keep repeating this until you feel that it’s enough.
- Climb new heights
Is there a hill around your neighbourhood that you probably thought would go hiking once? Well, how about taking baby steps to climb the hill every day and trying to go a little higher every day? Train your legs to the amount of difficulty, and that’s an excellent workout for your body! In tune, of course, your furry friend loves exploring new places, so it would be a good combo.
- Put in some strength and stretching
While you take your dog out for a walk, allow your dog to sniff around a bit and give him a break. Meanwhile, you can do some stretching, callisthenics or strength building exercises yourself. Most dog parents prefer squats, calf-raises and lunges that do not require too much moving away from their pupper.
You may also add vertical push-ups of a pole or some leg-lifts and triceps dip on the bench of the park that is said to be a full body workout.
Don’t let your floofball feel neglected! Your dog might get bored of only you working out alone. Engage and include your dog in your routine as well and here are some ways you can do so. But before we proceed to the fun and games part, let us tell you that you must reward your pet dog after workout walks. Rewards, of course, call for dog treats! Too many treats may cause a tummy ache, so you need to be careful about their fitness.
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So, play, workout or walk – anything is all enjoyable if you can incorporate some of these things:
- Ball racing wind sprints
Every dog loves to chase a ball or a bone. So, throw the ball or toy and instead of waiting for your furry friend to go get it, why don’t you run with him to make it like a challenge to see who can get it first.
Additionally, you can even throw the ball in one direction and run to the other direction. After that, when your dog returns to you, repeat the same thing in the opposite direction. And if you are not into running, throw the ball and do squats, lunges and jumping jacks for the time your pet dog gets you the ball back.
- Raise your heartbeat with a Frisbee
You must have seen those Frisbee dog videos all over social media. Did you notice how quickly the handlers move? Similarly, you can also turn this relaxing Frisbee game into a heartbeat booster.
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- Try to use two flying discs
Playing fetch with flying discs are an excellent tool when it comes to playing. Fly them and as soon as your furry friend catches the first one, ask them to drop it. Meanwhile, toss the second one. While he collects the second one, you can race and collect the first one. It is a fun game and at the same time, great source of cardio.
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- Tug games
If your dog loves tug games, then you are in luck. Consider including tug games into your workout sessions. With a little creativity, those with small dogs can enjoy workout session together as well. Be sure to add some gentle touch while tugging. You can try playing stay-run-jump-tug. That will add some movement to the tugging activity. Do this if you want to strengthen your upper body.
Switch Things Up at Times
Of course, the workout routine will become stale and boring once you keep doing the same things over and over again. That’s why our suggestion would be to keep your daily walks fresh. Change your routine – go for a long walk, bring in challenging terrain and other days add in the games.
This is just to add physical and mental stimulation for both you and your pet dog to stay motivated! At times, listen to what your dog has to say. Now, of course, you can’t literally listen to your dog, but you can always read the non-verbal cues.
Does your dog lie down to rest as soon as he reaches home, or is he still racing around the house with full-on energy? Interpret these cues and adjust the efforts accordingly.
Have you ever heard something like such a lift harness? Well, if you haven’t before, you have now. It’s a sling that gently wraps around your canine’s body and comes with a long handle. When your dog is wrapped around a lift harness, you can pull him or her up in order to take some weight off their legs and spine. In a way, it also helps you to help your dog get around.
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If you are looking to build muscles, have you ever thought of how amazingly it can come of some help? They are made of flexible fabrics, and you can lift your dog up and down quite a few times. This way your dog is not left out and also you can get those fit muscles you have always dreamed of.
Put on Some Weight
If you are the type of owner who is comfortable with hands-free dog harnesses, carry some extra small hand weights. How about weighted dog vests? Well, for that, it’s better for you to consult a vet. Improperly fitted vests may lead to hip, back and knee problems for your pet.
Dogs are Excellent Trainers
It’s no surprise that dogs who like to run and hike can become excellent personal trainers. Your pet dog can be a terrific fitness trainer if they are trained right from an early age. They will never cancel on you the very last minute and will always follow the routine you have already scheduled. In fact, they are the ones who would push you to get moving.
And incorporating your pet dog into a workout schedule could bring in serious health benefits for both of you. No risk of heart diseases, arthritis, diabetes or any other chronic conditions once you guys start working out. Moreover, you sleep well, improve your weight and your stress levels go down! The extra workout will help your dog relax better and behave accordingly.
Did you know that since you won’t have to split your time and energy between the gym and your pet dog, the workout walks lead to more efficiency and a platform for you to practice on the basic skills?
Make the 10 Minutes of Your Dog Walking Count!
No matter how little amount of time you spend walking your dog, it’s still better than none at all. Anyway, if you still have very less time to take your dog out for walks, make sure you make every moment count. Walk as hard as you can or possibly go for a slow jog. Come back home, take a shower and leave for work. That’s how you can make the most out of your exercise moments. Long walks are indeed a great form of exercise for those who enjoy calm and serenity, isn’t it? It’s a fun way to spend some time together with nature.
Signs of Fatigue
Do keep an eye on your dog when you take him for walk-workouts. Note whether your dog is starting to slow down, lie down on the grass, falling back or trying to run to the shade. While panting is normal, but heavily panting is a sign of exhaustion. This means that you are pushing your dog too hard.
Most importantly, make sure that your pet dog is comfortable with the walk-workout sessions and likes running with you. Your dog should be excited and all ready to go out when you take out his leash. If he seems to hide behind furniture or needs to be dragged along, then we would suggest you leave your dog at home.
As long as your furry friend is walking side by side or in front of you, you are right. As soon as they start lagging or resisting, just stop!
Know Your Dog
Yorkies, Great Danes and so on, they might love going for walks, but unfortunately, not all of them were made for longer distances or higher speeds.
So, you have to be aware of your dog and their capabilities.
Short-nosed dogs like Pugs or Bulldogs may have trouble breathing while running; short-legged dogs like Dachshunds may not be able to keep up to your speed; older dogs with health problems like arthritis are more suitable for leisurely strolls in the parks than quick sprints or long-distance jaunts.
It’s mostly the younger and active dogs who are in good health are better suited for long walks and quick runs. Be wary of puppies who are still younger than 18 months. They are still developing their bones and are still too young to run with you. Give them some time!
The best idea is to get a green signal from your holistic vet regarding the running routine.
Think of what you would do when you decide on an exercise regimen. Surely, you would consult a fitness expert and get a clarification on what are some of the exercises you should perform as per your weight, height and age. It’s the same in the case of dogs. You need to make sure that your furry friend is in good physical condition so that you can make the most out of your walk-workout.
Work Out a Plan
- Establish a feasible plan. Walk 30 minutes every day and include some fun games into the routine sometimes.
- Download an app and track your progress.
- If you’re a little old-school, you may even stick a calendar on the fridge and add a sticker to the days you had done some fun activity. This is like motivation to yourself and also a pause for every time you look for a calorie-laden snack in your fridge.
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Make sure to carry extra water with you while you go on that walk-workout session. You need to stay hydrated, and so does your pupper. If you’re going for walks at night, make sure that your dog’s harnesses are reflective. Nonetheless, check your dog’s paws if they have gotten blisters after the long walk and ensured to give them a break until they heal completely.
So, are you planning on implementing the ideas that we’ve mentioned above? Yes? Well then, good luck!