Get Fit with Your Dog!

Get Fit with Your Dog!

April marks Canine Fitness Month! All owners know that walks and playtime are important for your dog, but there lots of other way to get fit with your dog too. Dogs need exercise for a number of important reasons, and sufficient exercise is as important for our dogs’ mental health as it is their physical wellness, just like us! Pet obesity is an epidemic in America, and 25-30% of dogs are obese. Not only does excess weight make your pet more prone to disease, but it can shorten the years you have with them. Try some of these fun ideas to stay active with your pet to not only live healthier together, but to strengthen the bond between you and your furry best friend too.

woman running with husky on beach

Whether you are an avid runner or couch potato looking to start, running is a great activity to enjoy with your dog. If you are new to running, you and your dog can learn and gradually build endurance together. It is important to introduce running to your pup slowly, and running may be a better option for some breeds and ages than others. One year is generally a good age to introduce dogs to running and ensure that puppies’ bones and joints have fully developed and grown. Brachycephalic breeds like pugs, bulldogs, and other smushy-faced friends are better-suited for other activities as their short noses make them prone to overheating and make it difficult for them to take in adequate oxygen. Once you and your dog have honed your leash manners and are ready to run, start slowly to build stamina and strength. Warm up with your dog with a brisk walk, then add in small sections of jogging and continue this pattern for a few weeks, gradually increasing the periods of jogging.

french bulldog wearing life jacket kayaking

Water sports and activities are another fun way for you and your dog to boost your fitness together.  Swimming is a great, low-impact form of exercise making it an excellent option for senior dogs or dogs with hip or joint issues, as well as pets who are significantly overweight beginning their fitness journey. Some veterinarians even offer water treadmills which are a wonderful tool to increase strength and mobility, and can help minimize discomfort for pets with arthritis or recovering from an injury. Paddleboarding and kayaking are becoming increasingly popular with humans and pups alike. Hit the water with your pal and let them take swim breaks to cool and burn off extra energy. Before you do any kind of water activity, remember to fit your dog with a life jacket for their safety!

dog standing next to bike

Photo Credit: @pack_of_stripes_

If cycling is more your style and your pup loves to run, try bikejoring! Bikejoring is a dog sport where one or more dogs run in front of a bicycle. Some bike attachments also allow you to connect your leash on the side of your bicycle so your dog can jog or run alongside you. Before you and your dog are ready to get moving together, you will need to do some groundwork and teach your dog some basic cues to ensure your dog is ready and make this activity as safe as possible for both of you. First and foremost, make sure your dog is comfortable around your bike and start by walking them next to it while you push the bike to help build confidence. Good leash manners are a must before you attach your dog to your bike. Teach your dog to walk straight-ahead rather than weaving from one side to another. You will also want to teach your dog to slow down and stop from a voice command. These skills will help prevent any accidents while you are on board your bike, and help prepare your dog for distractions they may encounter, like other dogs or animals. Proper equipment is also important. Use a harness for bikejoring for the most secure attachment to your dog, and to be sure there is not pressure on their neck. Never take your dog running or walking on hot pavement and consider outfitting your pooch with dog booties to help protect their paw pads.

The right diet also plays a huge role in fitness and is just as vital for pups as it is people. Providing your dog with the right food to help support an active lifestyle and ideal weight goes a long way. Pureformance is a great option for both active dogs and dogs looking to shed a few pounds. Packed with protein to fuel your adventures and featuring chickpeas, Pureformance can help your pup have a steady supply of energy. Plus, Grandma Lucy’s Pureformance Fish recipe can be a great option to provide dogs with a low fat food that keeps them feeling satisfied and ready for their workout. Offer lean treats like Singles for healthy training treats or an extra boost during your activities. Not only is fitness important for your dog’s physical health, but it also helps relieve stress and, most importantly, build your bond. Grandma Lucy’s is here to help give you and your pet longer, healthier years together- from your best friend’s bowl and beyond.

Danielle Contreras