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By Dr. Caitlin O’Donoghue
We’ve compiled a guide of a few different FUN (nope, not a typo, just emphasis) ways you and your pup can get a good workout in, together! Once your pup starts to realize what grabbing your tennis shoes or a biking helmet means, their enthusiasm will actually rub off on you, we promise.
Running and cycling are two of the more traditional forms of exercise that can be taken to another level with your energetic pal by your side. Both are pretty rigorous, therefore not suited for every dog. Dogs are that medium-sized (30 – 60 pounds), short-haired and contain any of the sporting, working and herding breed groups are more accustomed and physically designed for strenuous exercise.
Don’t be disappointed if your dog can’t completely hang with you the first run or cycling trail. Much like how humans build endurance, pups need the same training to adapt. After your dog has done their “business,” work on incremental distances and running or cycling times.
Use the first few workouts to establish a baseline. Track the time and distance at which your dog starts to slow down or starts panting hard. Continue to build gradually (add 10-15%) each time you exercise. Long runs or hikes are great, but be sure to build in breaks for water and keep it at an easy pace so as to not overdo it for your pup.
Dogs are happiest when they get to run free, but not all pups can stay focused while off-leash. Consider investing in a leash that attaches to your waist for runners and for cyclers, check out the Springer which attaches a leash to your bike’s frame or seat. This will keep your pup close, focused and safe– but also avoid disruptions to your own exercise.
You want to constantly watch out for overheating, paw pad lacerations or abrasions. Take it easy on pups with flat faces/snouts and don’t push them to go more than 5 miles, since they have a harder time breathing.
Running and cycling too hardcore? We get it. You can still go outside! Toss your pup’s ball or frisbee as far as possible and bust out as many crunches as you can! Better yet, drop it low and get those squats and push-ups in. The point is to simultaneously get you and your dog working out while playing fetch and doing interval exercises during retrieval. Click here to get some ideas on different full body moves that’ll leave both you and your pup panting hard.
Group fitness fanatics, your workout class just got a million times more furry and fun. Studios all over the country are making it easier to workout with your dog at doggie-and-me fitness classes, or have designated dog-friendly indoor areas. Some of our local faves:
Bark and Barbells Richmond, CA
K9 Fit Club Los Gatos, CA
Fit Bernal Fit San Francisco, CA
Fit Glen Fit San Francisco, CA
YogaForce San Francisco, CA
Pups that are waiting for homes in shelters and rescues spend a good portion of their day in crates or cages. They can always use some exercise and fresh air! Call your local shelter or rescue, and take a few of the dogs out for a walk or jog. And if you decided to take one home, that wouldn’t be the worse thing…