Healthspan August 31, 2017

The importance of exercise (for us and for our dogs) is by no means anything new. For humans, there is a new-fangled exercise trend arriving every season, although they often disappear as quickly as they arrive. Canine exercise seems to suffer from the opposite problem; it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and walk the same 30-minute route day in, day out. Here is our advice for hitting the sweet spot between the two; changing up your routine enough to keep it interesting, but with the kind of consistency which means that you’re out and about and moving every day. Switch up your daily walk with these tips.

Playdates

There are few things more cathartic than catching up with a friend. Likewise, for sociable canines, meeting up with other dogs to play, run and chase like they would do naturally is one of the best ways to help them get their exercise. Arrange a play date with a friend and their pooch and while you walk, they can play and run.

Turn walks into hikes

If you normally walk a predominantly flat route, an easy way to up the ante (aside from walking faster) is to incorporate some hills. Your new vantage point will also result in great views, so you can consider a hike as stimulation for your minds and bodies.

Join forces

Let the world be your playground. Your normal walk route is probably full of potential - make use of benches, logs, ditches and trees for your dog to weave through, balance on, jump over or crawl under.

If you set up an assault course in your garden (and you don’t mind what the neighbours think) you could even take part with them. Make jumps with brooms on upturned buckets, buy tunnels from the pet shop and get them to run through a course of winding cones.

On yer bike!

If you’d like to up the pace for a lively dog and burn off some of their extra energy, get on your bike and have them run alongside. If this sounds like a recipe for disaster, that’s because there are a few precautions you need to take first.

  • Make sure you train your dog to run at the speed of the bike.
  • Start off slowly!
  • Get your dog a specialised lead; these keep a safe distance between your bike and your dog and have coiled springs to help take the force out of any unexpected tugs.
  • If your dog is well-trained and you have a car-free route, you could also choose to have your dog run alongside you off-leash.

Last words of wisdom…

Of course, when starting any new exercise regime, start slow and be careful to monitor your dog for signs of tiredness, which may include lagging behind and heavy panting, or any sign that they are injured.

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Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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