Owning a dog means exercise is no longer a choice. While it’s easy to skip out on that after-work gym session, there’s no way of avoiding your pup’s imploring eyes as they wait for their morning walk. Studies have shown that dog owners take 2,760 more steps per day than the average person, and even get more exercise on cold winter days than most people do on sunny ones. So no doubt about it, your hound is a serious health benefit. Here’s five ways you can put in some extra exercise time with your pooch.
A relatively new addition to the exercise-with-your-dog scene, DOGA classes show humans how to incorporate their pooches into their yoga poses. While it sounds a bit bonkers, it reportedly soothes any stress your dog might have picked up from you, and generally calms pets down. As some of the poses involve holding your dog aloft, Lion King-style, this is a better choice for smaller pups – Great Dane owners might want to try something that involves less lifting.
If running is already a part of your exercise regime, Canicross is a chance to incorporate your dog into it. Dogs are harnessed to their humans, and given musher-style commands on when to turn, slow down, speed up, or stand still. It’s a sport that needs some training beforehand, and is best suited to working dog breeds that are happy to cover miles of cross-country ground. Build up to long distances, and once you’re ready you can join in a canicross race and compete against other runners. Parkrun events, which happen around the world, also generally allow dogs.
Agility trials are some of the most exciting bits of Crufts, and a chance to strength that human-pooch bond – especially for dogs with lots of mental and physical energy to burn. While this is a little lower impact than something like Canicross, it’s still a chance for humans to get fit as they chase their dogs along the course. You’ll need to wait until your pet is over a year old, and also find a local park with the right equipment, or a nearby class. But once you’re trained up, there are agility events throughout the year, including the International Agility Festival in the UK.
Designed as a more accessible version of dog-sledding, bikejoring involves tethering your dog to the front of your bike, and letting them pull it along. This is definitely a sport for the more advanced dog owners, and one that needs plenty of training to build up to it. Remember to stay off the pavement, which can hurt joints and paw pads, and invest in the right equipment beforehand. For dog owners in snowy areas, there’s also skijoring, which is the same thing but on skis. It’s certainly among the more challenging sports, but one that might appeal to owners of larger breeds.
1. WALK AND WORKOUT
For dog owners who don’t want to invest in specialist equipment, or spend hours training, there are more straightforward ways to change up the daily dog walk. While your dog’s bounding after the ball, take the opportunity to get in some HIIT – throw it far enough and you should have time for a quick round of squats, lunges or crunches. If you’re feeling unsure, there are some workout classes that welcome dogs and humans together, particularly in the US. Try one of these for some inspiration on what you can do together, before you brave the park. We also recommend Kayla Itsines’ guide to exercising with your pets or Tone It Up’s walk your dog workout.
How do you get fit with your dog? Tell us in the comments below!