Although the New Year's Resolutions have probably gone by the wayside, the warmer weather and approaching bathing suit season have many folks renewing their efforts to get fit. Working out with your dog is an excellent way to kill two birds with one stone. It's good for both of you to get out there and get moving. Dr. Marty Becker has some tips for busting a move with your canine friend.
- Medical Health: Both you and your pet should get a health check up before starting any workout program. Discuss things like what your goals are for weight loss or maintenance and what you can improve in both your diets as well. Don't forget to weigh in so you know your starting point.
- Plans, maps and routes: Keep track of your progress. You can make it simple like marking an “X” on the calendar days when you walk along with the distance, or you can get more specific with a software or web based tracker. For those that have smartphones, check out the Map My Dog Walk app.
- Get in Gear: Make sure you have the appropriate clothing and shoes for yourself. Feet need good support. For your pet, get a good 6 foot leash and collar or whatever your trainer has recommended you use. You may need a sweater or paw boots if you live in inclement weather.
- Mind Your Manners: First, always carry extra poo-baggies. No one appreciates stepping in a mess on their walk, so think of others and pick up whatever your pet puts down. Second, if your dog pulls on the leash or is aggressive toward other dogs, this will not bode well for your fitness routine. You owe it to yourself and your pet to seek out proper training.
- Safety First: It doesn't hurt to throw a small first aid kit in your belt pack with the poo baggies. There are all sorts of hazards out there; even in suburban neighborhoods. Check out how to make a pet first aid kit to get some ideas of what to include. Also wear reflective gear so cars can see you. Don't forget to update your contact information on your dog's tags, licenses and microchip. In the event you get separated from your pet, you'll be glad you did. Carry your cell phone as well and have the number to your doctor and your pet's veterinarian saved to your contacts.
- Pace Yourself: If you haven't been hitting the trails (or sidewalks) in a while, don't expect to pull a marathon on your first time out. Start slow and build up so both you and your dog survive each workout.
Most of all, have fun. You and your dog will both benefit from getting out and about. Follow the steps above and you're sure to have a safe and good time.