Excerpt from Healthy Dog: The Ultimate Fitness Guide for You and Your Dog
Fun with Fitness—Anytime, Anywhere
Your tail-wagger bounds your way, does a belly roll, and gives a friendly yelp. He then postures into a play bow with his front paws extended out and his head tucked into his chest. Finally, he looks right at you and you swear that his eyes are actually twinkling. How can you resist this invitation to play? And, why would you?
Dogs didn’t invent fun, but they definitely put the P in play. They offer us relief from a world of gridlock, mortgages, and work deadlines. Allowing your dog’s contagious, carefree spirit to infect you will put you in a better mood and find you smiling more.
The beauty of playtime with your dog is that it can occur anytime, anywhere. Your dog doesn’t require your people to contact his people to book an appointment. For the most part, he doesn’t need special equipment. He’s usually ready and raring to go at the drop of a leash. Whether his playtime is five minutes or an hour, your dog will always be content to interact with you.
The opportunities for people to burn calories are endless. You may be surprised by how many—or how few—calories are expended. Listed below is a chart that identifies some common people activities. The numbers provided below are based on a 140-pound person performing each of these activities for an hour. Use this chart as a baseline for you:
Before you lace your sneakers and grab the leash for that outdoor romp, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to give your dog a head-to-tail physical. Discuss the best optimal workout plan for your pooch based on his health, age, body shape, likes, and dislikes.
No two dogs are the same. An exercise routine may work for one dog but not for another, even if they are the same breed. Generally, long-legged, light-framed dogs are best suited for jogging and leaping while short-legged, stocky-framed dogs are built for short energy bursts and steady-paced walks. But there are always the exceptions: for example, the Golden Retriever who prefers long, loping walks or the low-to-the-ground Basset Hound who craves a spirited half-mile jog.
As a general guideline, the average adult dog benefits by receiving 20–45 minutes of moderate exercise a day, such as a brisk walk. Gradually build up your dog’s aerobic capacity by starting with a brisk five-minute walk. Or engage in short 5- to 10-minute play sessions with your dog. Roll a ball across the backyard for him to chase, for example. Just like you, your dog needs time to get into condition to be able to safely exercise for 30 minutes or more. Set realistic goals that match your dog’s needs and abilities, not your personal wishes. You need to condition your dog at his pace rather than push him to meet your people- or ego-defined goals.
Finally, be consistent with your exercise regime. Don’t turn your dog into a weekend warrior—a canine who exercises only on Saturdays and Sundays. He is apt to injure himself. Reduce that risk by letting him burn off some calories everyday—even if only for 20 minutes.
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