A New Year brings lots of New Year’s resolutions for everyone. We promise that we are going to stop drinking, give up indulgent treats, exercise more and lose weight. These are all great goals but sometimes it can be hard to stick to them especially when life gets in the way. That is why getting fit with your dog could be the answer to your problems.
When you think about exercising maybe the thought of joining the gym scares you. But what if I told you that as a dog owner you have the best exercise machine that you could ever have.
Getting Fit With Your Dog In 2017
Why Your Dog Makes a Good Fitness Partner
Apart from the cute face and the wagging tail there are lots of reasons that your dog makes the perfect fitness partner.
#1. Encouragement to Go for a Walk
Dogs love to go for a walk and given the opportunity most would walk for hours. They don’t care if it’s rainy, cold, snowing or dark they are ready with their tail wagging to get out the door.
That is why dogs make the perfect walking partner. They are not going to feed your excuses not to go for a walk, instead they are going to be wagging their tail to tell you it’s time to go go go!
#2. Company on Your Walk
Perhaps walking on your own doesn’t appeal to you. Maybe you feel self-conscious or find it lonely. Having your dog to talk to (we know you do!) on your walks makes it much easier to get out and about.
It also gives you that reason to go for a walk.
#3. Helps You Keep a Good Pace
I know I tend to stroll rather than walk sometimes unless I have something to keep my pace. While your dog might stop to sniff the grass, tree etc. they do keep you are a nice pace most of the time.
They also stop you from giving up. You can’t get 5 minutes into your walk and then decide you are tired and go home when you have your dog with you. They will want to carry on walking and keep you going.
Benefits of Walking for You and Your Dog
We talked about how much exercise your dog needs and how often you need to take them for a walk in previous articles.
But how will you both benefit from walking together?
#1. General Health/Weight Loss
You may not be looking to lose weight but instead increase your general health. Walking can help you with both. Using something like the Fitbit you can monitor the food that you eat and the exercise that you do.
Your vet will be able to advise you if your dog is overweight and the amount of weight they need to lose. If they are at the perfect weight, then walking will keep them healthy and active.
#2. Outlet for their excess energy
Ever feel that you can’t tire your dog out? They just have an abundant amount of energy.
When we go for a walk it wakes us up and energizes us. But for your dog it helps them burn all that excess energy that they have.
Keeping a regular walking schedule with your dog helps both of you. You feel more active and energized and they get to burn off that energy.
#3. Relieves Boredom/Change of Scenery
We all get bored with looking at the same thing all the time. Whether that is the four walls in your house, your computer screen or the office you work in. Getting out with your dog to get fit gives you the change of scenery you need and relieves the boredom a lot of dogs suffer from.
Your dog needs the mental stimulation of new surroundings during the day.
#4. Helps with Training
If you are training your dog or just want to keep on top of training, then it gives you a chance to get out and practice. Repetition is key when it comes to training your dog.
The more time you can spend with them practicing sit, stay, walking on the lead etc. then the better they will be at it.
#5. Socialises Your Dog (and you!)
Have you ever seen 101 Dalmatians? If so, you will know that owning a dog is a great way to meet the man, or woman, of your dreams. You walk your dog in the park, you meet the perfect dog owner and then you go on to have lots of puppies!
But seriously, walking your dog can be a great way to meet other dog owners and their dogs. It can help a young dog get used to being around other dogs.
Preparing for Getting Fit With Your Dog
Getting fit is not just about walking but also about the food that you put into your body.
> Healthy Food for You
One of the easiest ways to start the day when you are getting out for a walk is to make a healthy smoothie. It’s quick, it’s simple and it’s very filling.
I was fortunate to be given a Nutri-Fit Nutrition Extractor Blender to try out and have been really impressed with it. It’s a very powerful machine and has handy cups that you can drink from on the go.
If chopping fruit puts you off the idea of smoothies, you might find the pre-chopped frozen smoothie packs you can purchase in Tesco or Aldi for around 2.50 euro. Then you can add milk or juice to them and maybe some protein powder. Alternatively get chopping and make your own juices using both fruit and vegetables.
> Healthy Food for Your Dog
The puppy eyes can be hard to resist when it comes to sharing your own food with your dog or giving them extra treats. However, you really aren’t doing your dog any favours though and you may now find yourself having to put them on a diet.
It’s therefore best to get them on the right food from the start. Your local pet store or vet will be able to weigh your dog and advice on the best brand/type of food for them.
A good dog food it not only good for their diet but also their general health.
What to Take On A Dog Walk
There are lots of water bottles for both humans and dogs that are perfect to take on a dog walk. It’s a good idea to always have water with you when you go walking. It’s not just during the summer heat that you will need water it’s important to keep hydrated all the time.
#2. Dog Lead
Always keep your dog on the lead to keep them safe. There are extender leads that you can use if you want to give
your dog a little more freedom.
We recently tried out this 8m Reflective Extendable Dog Lead with our dog Joey and found it to be helpful in giving him a little more freedom on our walks. I also liked the reflective strip on it for walking later at night.
#3. Mobile Phone
Make sure your mobile phone is charged when you head off for a walk. It’s important to be able to contact someone if you, or your dog, get injured.
This is important on night walks. Also, reflective clothing for both you and your dog is important so that people can see you, especially if you are walking on the roads at night.
This might only be necessary if you are heading off on a hike where you might get lost! Google maps can also be a handy alternative that is up to date all the time and has GPS tracking.
How Far Should You Walk Each Day?
Having purchase a Fitbit I am focused on 10,000 steps each day which is about 5 miles. If you aren’t very active during the day, maybe you work in an office or at home, then you might find you are currently only doing about 1000-3000 steps per day.
Build up to this over several days/weeks and if you have any medical conditions you should consult with your Doctor before starting any fitness regime.
Apps/Products to Monitor How Far You Have Walked
I recently purchased the Fitbit and have been very impressed with it so far. It allows me to monitor my steps each day, the calories I have eaten, water I have drank, and I can also compete with friends who also have a Fitbit.
It’s also great for keeping you in a routine with walking regularly, getting up at the same time and reminding you to stop playing on Facebook and go to bed!
> S Health Phone App
This is an app for your phone which offers a similar amount of information to the Fitbit but obviously relies on you having your mobile phone with you all the time. It’s free, unlike the Fitbit, which is an obvious plus.
How to Monitor Your Dogs Daily Activity
We recently reviewed the FitBark and found it to be an excellent product. It will help you keep an eye on how much your dog is moving throughout the day and if you have concerns about their weight you will be able to monitor their activity levels.
How to Tell If Your Dog Is Overweight
The general guide is that if you cannot feel the bones beneath the layer of fat, then your dog is overweight.
I would however recommend that you consult with your vet if you think your dog needs to lose weight and get them to help you put together a diet and exercise plan for them.
What are your fitness plans this year with your dog? We’d love to hear from you in the comment below.
Note: I received the Blender, Dog Lead and FitBark mentioned above for free to assist in an article we were writing about the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.