3 Ideas to Spring Into Fitness with Your Dog
The sun’s coming back out and it’s time to start working on fitness again! Not just for you, but for your pooch too! Over the cold months, dogs can lose muscle mass along with putting on weight while getting cozy, but who can blame them? Cold weather can be an overall energy-zap and put additional strain on aging, achey joints. Finding the energy to get up and out in cold dreary weather is hard for humans and dogs alike. Luckily, there are tons of ways for you and your dog to get back into the swing of things and enjoy the late-winter sun while gearing up for more active time this summer.
1. Getting the Mind Active Again: The hardest part of beating the winter shut-down is getting the mind active and energetic again. A good place to start motivating the brain is to learn something new. Whether your dog is a master of many tricks or still struggling with a simple “sit” or “stay,” pulling together a routine to learn a new skill or two can help move you both into lively spirits. Whether it’s just the two of you or the whole family, by learning something new together, you’re not only bonding with your dog but also motivating each other. Looking for more ways to stimulate your dog’s brain throughout the day? You can try one of our puzzle toys to get your dog's mind back into gear for more physical activity later.
2. Get Moving Outside: Been slacking on walks because of how cold it’s been? Doubling down on walks is great exercise for both you and your furry friend, and it’s getting easier and easier as the season thaws out. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of walking a week for general human health — a simple goal to set for your dog walks. Adding a dog-walk to the beginning or end of your workout is a fantastic way for you to warm up or cool down and helps sneak an extra walk in for Fido. Depending on your dog’s size, age, and ability, turning those walks into runs and bike rides can be the next step to getting healthy with your dog. Make sure to increase activity levels slowly— if you amp it up too quickly you could strain both you and your dog. Be gentle on yourself and your pooch, working up to your fitness goals in stages.
3: Incorporating a Dog Into Yoga: Still too chilly outside for you? There’s plenty of exercise to be done indoors, too! If you’ve ever tried practicing yoga at home with your dog around, you know how curious dogs can get about the different ways you move your body! You can always try to incorporate your dog into your positions: weaving in and out of your legs in standing positions, bending over larger dogs for triangle poses, or using smaller dogs as weighted resistance on your lap or legs. It may take a few tries and some treats, but over time dog yoga can become a great way to establish trust and to get more in tune with how your dog is feeling.
No matter what the exercise, mental or physical, the most important thing is to get started and go from there. Make sure to be attentive to your dog and their limits when it comes to speed, distance, endurance, and patience. If you’re going outside, make sure they’ve got a durable leash and harness so they don’t get hurt. At Petwell we have a wide range of leashes for the active dog, including Mountain Dog Earth-Friendly Leashes made from recycled climbing rope, so you know it’ll stand up to even the strongest pullers. Take strain off your dog’s neck with a Ruffwear Hi & Light Harness, recommended for runners and bicyclists who want to include their dogs on their routes without weighing them down. And even though the goal is getting fit, don’t forget to treat your pooch for positive reinforcement. We offer many different training treat recipes from both Zuke’s and Cloud Star at less than 2-3 calories per treat, keeping weight management in mind while making new activities delicious. Together you can tackle anything!
- Dayne Samuels