Fun Ways to Exercise With a Dog

by General Information

Dogs and their owners need daily exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy. Many dog owners report losing weight and becoming more fit after adopting a dog. Exercising with your dog can be as simple as a daily walk or jog. However, some dogs and owners need more than just walks to stay fit and entertained.

Swim Together

Many public pools offer a few days during the summer where the pool is open to owners who want to swim with their dogs. If the municipal pools in your area don't have this program, try doggie daycare and rehabilitation centers. If you don't mind sharing the water with a little bit of dog hair, swimming with your dog can be great fun for both of you. It's also the only form of exercise that strengthens every muscle group.

Avoid swimming with your dog in lakes or streams. This water can contain harmful bacteria, viruses and protozoans. You can prevent yourself from drinking lake or stream water, but if your dog is in a lake and wants a drink, it's going to be difficult to stop him.

Dog Agility

Dog agility isn't just good exercise for your dog. A successful handler will run the course with their dog, shouting cues and encouragement. Your own body position and cues have a big impact on the way your dog performs in agility. Taking an agility class can be great exercise for both dog and handler. Short spurts of intense exercise followed by rest periods while other dog/handler teams take their turns are good for developing fitness.

If you want to try agility, make sure your dog's joints are fully developed and he is in good enough health for intense exercise. Look for a trainer who has earned titles with several of her own dogs in agility and who has coached students to multiple titles as well. Positive reinforcement should be used at all times. Punishment discourages agility dogs.

Biking with Your Dog

Bicycling with your dog is fun and great exercise for both of you. Toy breeds can't usually run fast enough to accompany their owners on bicycle rides, but medium- to large-sized dogs love a good bike ride. It offers the rare opportunity to run for an extended period at full speed, which is faster than most humans can run for long.

If you choose to bike with your dog, safety should be your first concern. Always wear a bicycle helmet. You'll also need a device that prevents your dog from pulling your bicycle over and causing an accident that could injure both of you. This product should also be hands-free so you can keep your hands on the handlebars and brakes. There are a number of products available that fit this specification, including the popular Springer bike harness and the K-9 bike jogger.

This article was published on Sunday, July 01, 2012