I always get intimidated when I read exercise tips from exercise pros. Invariably it’s some triathlon veteran with incredible abs who promises to get you ready to do your first ironman in six months’ time or less. And for me, as someone with a busy schedule and kids and knees that shudder at the thought of a 15 mile run, I want something a little more realistic.
And it can be done. Anything is better than nothing, and a moderate approach is a little more accessible than a marathon training schedule, at least for the average dog owner out there. A 5K, for example, is a fun and reasonable goal even for people who wouldn’t consider themselves elite athletes. In that vein, Brody and I are going to participate in the Puppy Love 5K in February with a group of friends.
For those who want to embark on an exercise goal with their pets without committing to an intense schedule, let’s keep in mind some common sense tips and endpoints:
1. Go slow. If you have a dog who is older or has a condition that predisposes them to sensitivities when it comes to a cardiovascular regime, follow their lead. Arthritic pets are going to be slower in the morning while it’s cold out and their joints are a bit stiffer; brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs, and pets who are overweight, are going to accumulate heat more quickly than other breeds and may need to start with shorter distances.
2. Keep hydrated. A travel bowl such as the TazLab AquaFur is a necessity especially if your dog doesn’t like to drink out of a water bottle.
3. Have the right gear: Retractable leads make pets much more difficult to control. I use a standard 6 foot lead or a sports lead such as the EZY Dog shock absorber leash in conjunction with a no-pull head harness or chest harness like the Easy Walk.
4. Have fun! Pick an activity that is enjoyable for you and for your dog. If it’s a drag for you or for them, there’s no way you’re going to stick with it. There are tons of Meetup groups if you like to share your activity with friends.
And as always, don’t forget the poop bags. One, it’s against the law in most locales NOT to pick up after your dog. And two, it’s gross and gives non-pet people just one more reason to try and prohibit dogs from public places, which we don’t want.
Any other tips for the non-elite athletes that make exercise fun and accessible? Share em here!