Have a little fun on your walks by incorporating some cardio and strength training but make sure your pooch is enjoying it!
Running is such a great activity to burn off excess doggie energy, negate last night’s pizza and get in a little bonding time. Here are a few rules to follow to ensure Fido’s health and safety while you multi-task a little:
1. He must be one year or older. You want to make sure your dog’s growth plates are closed so he does not suffer an unnecessary injury. Large breeds can take even more time to fully develop. Check with your veterinarian if you are unsure before starting any exercise routine with your furry friend.
2. Condition his body like you would yours. Urban dwellers and suburbanites alike run on the sidewalk rather than grass or dirt roads. These extremely hard surfaces can do a number on pooch pads, tendons and ligaments. Additionally, you need to slowly ease your dog into a long run. A five-mile run his first workout can cause him to overheat or damage any number of body parts. If you are a serious runner, do separate workouts until you can work Fido up to the distance you are accustom to. For more information about training him to run with you, see “Running with Rover”.
3. Pay attention to him. As a runner, it is easy to get lost in your thoughts or whatever is playing on your iPod. If your dog is running with you, neither is an option. His health and safety are your responsibility. Watch him very closely for signs of fatigue and always stop for water. It breaks my heart when I see joggers running at mock speed while yanking their panting, stressed dog. Not fun for Fido!
Let’s say you tried running with your dog and it is just not his thing. In Finn’s younger years, we attempted it but he would stop after two blocks and look at me with pathetic eyes. Subtlety has never been his forte. I have, however, found a few exercises I can do while still holding the leash during our long, slow walks. I put him in a “down/stay” and do step ups, lunges, planks, pushups, triceps dips and squats. The best part is, if you walk in different directions all the time like we do, you will encounter bricks, steps, benches and rails of varying heights to help challenge your muscles in different ways. Quicker progress for you!
I will admit, the first time I stopped to do a few exercises on a stranger’s steps, I was a little nervous. To date, only one person has even commented and it was to her child, “look honey, that lady’s dog is watching her workout.” I can live with that, just no peeing on your neighbor’s flowers.