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Exercising With Your Dog

Adopting a furry friend will not only save your new buddy's life, it might improve your health.  As the thermometer drops, many people head indoors, giving up on regular exercise routines.  Finding a furry exercise buddy who needs to go for a walk regardless of the weather may be the answer.  According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the majority of dog owners take at least two walks a day and 42 percent of owners tally 30 or more minutes of walking each day.

Science has shown that consistent activity is a key tool in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, therefore adopting a dog is one of the most effective ways to achieve consistent exercise. 

Walking is a safe, easy way to get some exercise and adopting a dog is all the inspiration you need to get moving.  No matter what your fitness level, having a dog creates a "buddy system" between dog and owner, where each is accountable to the other.  This consistent activity is a great aid to any weight loss and maintenance effort. What's more, who can resist that wagging tail after walking in the door from work?

North Shore Animal League America provides the following tips for adding a dog to an activity regime:

A medium or large breed dog is best for fast-moving exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, or jogging.  Many small breed dogs are not recommended because his/her little legs won't be able to keep up with a fast pace; an extra-large breed is only recommended with the approval of a vet as many have hereditary joint and ligament concerns.

If a dog is coming from a couch-potato lifestyle, slow and steady is the key to success.  A daily 10-15 minute walking or swimming session is a good start, building up to an hour a day as the pet's fitness level increases.  If, after a few months, the pet can handle long, fast walks without fatigue, then jogging can be considered.

 

The ideal route is one with a path or sidewalk to walk on; ideally one that the dog can walk on grass.  If city or sidewalk trotting will be the norm, it is necessary to build up distance slowly to let the dog's footpads become conditioned.

If the dog has more energy to expend, then you can play fetch with a ball or Frisbee.  This also provides a great bonding opportunity.

 

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