Canis lupus familiaris, or as most of us refer to them, the dog!
What do I call them? Work out buddies!
Don’t get me wrong; I love exercising with my husband or a friend. But sometimes, I just want my dog! I want to go, without makeup, in my “comfy” jogging outfit with my always accepting fur kid. Plus, canine workout partners won’t cancel, they won’t be late, they don’t judge, and there won’t be any complaining! And what could be more motivating than that cute eager-to-please little face?!
Of course, everyone knows you can burn calories while taking the dog for a walk or jog. I challenge you to take it one step further! Take your dog; kayaking, hiking, swimming, frisbee, agility training, stand-up paddle boarding, and cycling to name a few.
Now, before you head out the door with Rover in tow, there are considerations. When choosing an athletic activity for your beloved pup, make sure it is appropriate for their age, size, and physical limitations. For example, any flat-faced breed should not perform cardiovascular conditioning or activities in the heat. Also, be proactive about the safety and comfort of your dog with items such as a harness, boots, life jackets, doggles, reflective gear, and so on.
Aside from involving my dogs in my recreational endeavors, I also compete with them! Our favorite event is called the Mighty Dog 5k hosted by Total Body Fitness. The first year I ran with Kaiya, and we placed fourth overall, but I was also the first female runner in. Which, of course, made me very happy! This year, I ran with Moxie, and we placed second in our medium dog division! I enjoy learning the competitive personality of the dog and how they are as a teammate. The atmosphere is family based and really fun. We enjoy seeing all the different makes and models of Man’s Best Friend!
So what if you aren’t a runner or have no desire to hike your pooch up a mountain? Exercising with your dog is as simple as a grassy area of your home or a park. Stretch together, dance, or do some yoga!
Create fun games that involve squats, arm circles, push-ups, or core work. For example, after you throw the ball, you have to do arm circles until it is returned. The ball didn’t make it back? Lunge to it! Barking? Each bark is a push-up! Come up with fun rules that are appropriate for your body and exercise goals.
Just remember, your dog has a fitness level too! Progress his or her workouts based on the condition of the animal's body and any medical considerations. Note the level of energy and recovery time needed. Working out together should be fun for both parties!