No matter what you or your dog’s level of physical fitness, there are plenty of fun ways of exercising together. Some dog owners adapt their regular sport, such as jogging, walking or cycling, to include their canine companion, while others take part in activities specially designed for doggie fun and fitness. Whatever you choose, your four-legged friend will thank you for the exercise and be calmer at home.
Dogs can be taken out running as soon as they’ve finished growing, usually once they’re around one year old. Depending on your dog’s level of fitness, you may need to take short breaks every so often. Plus, make sure you keep a close eye on your dog and stay attentive to their needs. Runners looking for another level of synergy can team up with their dogs for canicross — basically, cross-country running with dogs. This sport requires little in the way of equipment or expense. Get yourself a belt leash to help prevent back pain, loaded with a springy, shock-absorbing leash (like a bungee cord), with a level of flexibility to suit your dog’s size and strength. This should be attached to a harness, which is more comfortable for your dog to wear. You’ll burn as much energy as your canine companion, averaging around 600 calories per hour. For dog owners who prefer cycling, this system can also be adapted to cross-country mountain biking, although it’s important to train your dog to stay away from the wheels.
A walk in the countryside for total freedom
Walks in the great outdoors are ideal for ditching the leash while you and your dog frolic in the fresh air. Dogs can roam and explore to their hearts’ content, with all five of their senses awakened. Walking is a great form of exercise that doesn’t require any special equipment. However, remember to keep you and your pet hydrated and take extra care in hot weather. Also, make sure your dog heads out on an empty stomach, or you could end up taking an emergency trip to the vet with a dog suffering from bloating or a twisted stomach.
From Frisbee to flyball
Flyball is a dog sport that’s similar to Frisbee. Dogs have to run over a track of hurdles to a box that launches a tennis ball. They then have to catch the ball and bring it back to their owner via the same hurdles. This dog sport is popular in the USA and other English-speaking countries, and is gradually gaining ground in Europe. Since owners don’t need to run alongside their dogs, flyball is accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Whether alone or as part of a competition, throwing a Frisbee or ball for your dog is a great form of exercise that’s lots of fun.
Invented in the USA a little over 15 years ago, dog dancing — known as canine freestyle — is a mix of obedience training, tricks and dance. Owners basically teach their dogs a routine to the soundtrack of their choice, training their dogs to twist and turn to the rhythm of the music. There’s a growing number of doggie dance clubs out there that can teach owners the basics, and competitions are now organized in several countries around the world.
A dip in the sea
While some dogs love to swim, others are scared of water. If your dog is reluctant to take the plunge, then don’t force them into the water. Like children, dogs should be closely supervised at all times when at the seaside. You’ll also need to check which beaches are open to dogs before you head out. Beware of saltwater, though, as it can cause severe diarrhea! Note that dogs can wear life jackets when riding in boats. And if the sea is too far away, try looking for a special dog swimming pool.
Jump obstacles on an agility course
For a great workout with your dog, take a trip to a canine fitness center or agility course, which can now be found in both town and country locations. This can be a great introduction to agility training, where dogs are directed through a course of obstacles by a specialist handler.
When exercising with your dog, avoid heading out after meals or in very hot weather. Make sure your dog drinks water regularly to stay hydrated and think about getting your dog to warm up before certain activities to avoid injury.
– AFP Relaxnews
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