If you’re planning to get this year off to a healthy start by increasing the amount of exercise you do, then you may already have the perfect fitness buddy – your ever loyal canine companion. We all know how important exercise is for us humans, and it’s equally as important for your dog. Giving your dog the right amount of exercise can help to improve behaviour and stop unwanted habits like barking and chewing.
There are lots of simple ways to increase the amount of exercise you’re both getting, so we’ve created some tips & advice to help you on your journey.
Increase walking time
- If you’re keen to increase the amount of time you spend walking with your pup, then it’s best to do this slowly & gradually so that you can monitor and be aware of your dog’s limits.
- If you find that your dog is still tired and out of breath an hour or so after the activity then you should shorten the length of your walk and slow down the pace next time around.
- Young dogs don’t need as much exercise as fully developed dogs so you should take this into consideration. Small breeds are generally fully developed by 9 months, and medium and large breeds from 12 to 18 months.
- As with all activities you do with your dog, you should make sure to take some water with you so that both you and your canine companion can stay hydrated. We recommend portable water bowls like the Ruffwear Quencher Water Bowl which is lightweight and can be folded away for on-the-go hydration.
- We’re lucky to have lots of idyllic places in the UK to walk with your dog – including many of our national parks, woodlands and beautiful beaches.
- Explore new areas that you may have previously avoided (namely those hilly areas, but what goes up must come down).
- Make sure you’ve got a local map – this is especially important if you’re going off the beaten track or to an area you’re unfamiliar with
- Make sure you’ve checked that the area you’re visiting is dog friendly and if there are any specific rules you’ll need to keep in mind to avoid any disappointment for you or other visitors
- Check the weather to ensure you know what you’ll need to bring along – this should help to avoid you being caught off guard by bad (or even good) weather
- Make sure you have a lead for your four-legged friend that suits the distance, terrain and distance you’re planning to walk – you might want to consider extendable or even a hands free lead for long distances. We recommend the Ruffwear Roamer Leash which is both extendable and can be hand-held or waist worn.
- You and your new running companion should start gradually, slowly building up from a short jog as you face longer distances together. A slow starting pace is great to help build up resilience on your pet’s paws, as well as getting them used to running for longer periods on the lead beside you.
- A good lead is key to a good and safe run: you’ll want to allow your dog some flexibility but not enough to let them run off. A fixed-length, strong leash should do the trick as retractable leads can result in too much loose material turning into a health hazard! With so many running leads on the market there is a great selection to choose from. We love Ruffwear’s Roamer Leash, Carnicross’ Starter Kit and Inner Wears’ Non-Stop Dog Runner.
- Be aware of the surfaces and routes that you’re running along; some areas could potentially cause injury, especially at a quick pace. Beware of ice, areas with debris, or routes where bikes could startle your pup.
- Your dog can’t tell you when it needs a rest, so look for the signs. Pulling back on the lead or panting may mean time to take five. Other common signs include sore or sensitive pads, extended periods of fatigue directly after exercise or over-heating.
- When you’ve both got your breath back and had a stretch, it’s worth giving your dog a bit of a wash down and also check their paws for any foreign bodies that could cause discomfort.
- Challenge yourself and your pooch to get involved in local dog-friendly events – there are often boot camps, walking & run events accessible to dog owners (and some specifically designed with dogs in mind!).
- Join a dog walking group in your local area where both you and your pup can make new friends.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of play! Dedicate more time to playing with your pup, whether that’s indoors or outdoors.
- Why not challenge you and your pup to try out a dog agility course? Your pooch will enjoy trying it out and it’ll help to test their obedience whilst giving you the opportunity to teach your dog some new tricks.
- Dogs love to swim and swimming is great for them too and it doesn’t put pressure on their joints. You could also try including your dog when you partake in water sports such as kayaking or paddle boarding. It would be advisable to use a canine life vest when letting your dog swim in lakes, rivers or the sea where there could be a current.
- Cycling is another activity that you can introduce your dog to, and will also benefit your health. Please do take care when taking up this activity and choose your route carefully, avoid roads and main cycle routes which can be busy and could create a challenge of its own.
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