The air outside is still crisp and the trees are still bare but spring is just around the corner. Many of us may be starting to think about shedding those extra pounds we accumulated over the winter months, so now is the time to start spring training.
Before you begin any form of exercise you would be wise to take some time to brush up on your obedience skills with your dog. Make sure that he or she is heeling properly and responding to all of your commands, because the last thing you want is to be dragged around the street or through a park with an unruly or disobedient dog.
One of the most popular forms of exercise for both humans and their pets is walking or jogging. Remember that even though your canine friend may be young and full of energy, just like you he can’t start jogging where you left off last fall. Over the course of the winter you haven’t used all those leg muscles and you should start off slowly. Walk at a steady pace for at least five or ten minutes, and then relax your gait for the next five to ten minutes. Doing this every other day for a few weeks will get both you and your dog in condition and put you in shape to enjoy a good forty minute jog. Just remember to start slow and work up to your ultimate goal.
You should know that, unlike jogging with your human friends, your dog can’t readily tell you when he or she has had enough, or that the pace is getting too hard to keep up. Be sure that you can read the signs that your pet has had enough and don’t overdo it. Always be prepared to slow down or stop completely and rest. Also, be sure to have ample water available for both of you.
You should also think about varying your exercise routine to make sure that neither of you gets bored. Ensure that you are not overworking some muscles and not working other muscles. If you don’t vary your route or try something different every few days, you will soon get into a rut and may stop your exercise program completely.
Another great form of exercise for both you and your dog is agility training, using tunnels, hurdles etc. Routines may include running, jumping and crawling and this not only uses different muscles, but also stimulates your pet’s brain. Remember that brain stimulation is just as important and tiring for your pet as the actual physical exercise. Another popular form of exercise with your dog is cycling. A slow bike ride with your dog can help a young dog burn off a lot of energy. Just be sure that you have the proper safeguards in place and that your dog is able to keep up – remember your dog will be expending considerably more energy than you. Make sure you stop several times to allow your pet to relieve himself and have some water. If he is showing signs of being exhausted, stop riding and walk slowly back home.
When the weather really warms up a great form of exercise for you and your dog is swimming. Some breeds of dogs are obviously better suited to swimming than others, but with patience and guidance most dogs will enjoy a swim with their human companion. If your dog is somewhat nervous and has trouble keeping his head above water, you may want to use a flotation device to keep his head up. This form of exercise is great for any dog as there is no pressure on the limbs, and is especially good for older dogs or those with joint problems. Just remember to always keep a close eye on your pet while in the water.
So with spring and summer in the offing, start thinking about your exercise routine and plan what you may want to do with your four legged friend. Before you start any type of programme, be sure that both you and your dog have a physical check up. Be sure that you are able to participate in an exercise and that the exercise you choose fits into your fitness level. So let’s get off the couch and put on a pair of sneakers and enjoy the warmer days ahead.