Guest post by Isabella Lovett
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), only 5% of the population exercise for 30 minutes everyday. Let us also consider that 38% of households have a dog and most breeds require at least two walks a day. It looks like both humans and their canine counterparts aren’t getting enough exercise. This needs to be addressed or you will end up with an overweight dog who will be susceptible to health issues like diabetes and joint pain. The good news is that the majority of dogs love getting out to exercise, so take the opportunity to join them and you can get fit and healthy together.
Use two commands
Running is a great fat-burning exercise. In fact you can burn off up to 1,000 calories in an hour. Many breeds of dog will enjoy going for a run, particularly high-energy working breeds like Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers. It is important however, that you are both safe when you are out running, especially if you are planning to let them off the leash. A good way to train your dog is to work on some interval running using two different commands. Intelligent dogs can easily learn to run when they hear the “run” command, but walk when they hear the second “walk” command. This means that you are always in control when you want to slow down and stop.
Pick the right leash
If you are running with a small breed dog like a terrier who is reasonably obedient, then your normal dog leash will probably suffice. However if you have a larger breed dog who is prone to lunging or stopping periodically to sniff things, it is worth investing in a good leash or harness system that discourages this. A figure of eight leash that fits around the nose, or a Halti-style head harness would be good for running and will discourage your dog from suddenly lunging sideways if he smells something interesting. Alternatively you can use a fitted, sturdy harness that has a leash clip on the back.
Dogs need a warm up too
If you don’t have a warm up before going out for a run, you can damage your muscles and tendons, causing sprains and joint pain. The same is true for dogs, so don’t suddenly head off for a sprint straight from cold. Before you begin your main run, have a ten minute brisk walk with your dog and then a few short, slow jogs, each a few minutes long. Other good warm up exercises for your dog include a little game of tug, which uses their leg muscles and getting your dog to stand up on his back feet — this stretches the hip area.
Running with your dog will help you to get fit, tone your body and keep healthy for longer. Your dog will enjoy this bonding exercise together and find it great fun to be by your side.