According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults and 17 percent of children in the United States are overweight. The statistics for dogs — and cats — aren’t good either. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention finds that 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats are overweight or obese.
Being overweight or obese — whether it’s you or your pet — can lead to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. Before you exercise with your dog, talk to his veterinarian. Certain exercises, such as running or even jogging, are not recommended for puppies whose bones haven’t finished growing and for some short-legged and short-nosed breeds. Short-legged dogs don’t need as much walking as larger dogs, and flat-nosed dogs can have trouble catching their breath.
Here are a few tips on how you and your dog can exercise together:
1. Take a hike
Well, a hike is a great idea, but if you are not used to strenuous exercise, start with a walk, and build from there. Many of us are pressed for time. So, if you are running late in the mornings, try to get up just a bit early — if possible. You can take a 10 minute walk with your dog. If your schedule allows it, try to get in three walks a day, and make one at least 20 minutes.
2. Cut back on the treats
Instead of rewarding your dog with treats, give him attention. Dogs love interacting. If you want to give your dog a treat, break it in half and put the other half away for another day. Same goes with treats for you — eat half today and the other half tomorrow. This way you won’t feel deprived.
3. Visit the dog park
If possible, walk to the dog park. When you get there, toss a ball around with your dog. Both of you will get some exercise.
4. Go for a swim
Swimming is a low-impact exercise that you and your dog can do.
5. Jog or run
Find a track that welcomes dogs and make sure your have comfortable running shoes. That is all you need for this cardio workout. Bring a water bottle and foldable bowl so you and your dog can rehydrate.
Play a game of tug-of-war with your dog. It can help build your upper body strength and your dog will enjoy spending time playing with you.
7. Play catch
Whether it’s a ball, a Frisbee, or his favorite toy, go outside and play a game of catch.
8. On rainy days
If you have stairs in your apartment building or in your home, go up and down a few flights (remember to start slow). If you have a treadmill in your home, you and your dog can use that too.
9. Sign up for an exercise class
You and your dog can take agility classes or even “doga,” a form of yoga designed for the both of you.
10. Resistance walk
This is great for all kinds of weather. Try to walk your dog in the snow, on the sand, in shallow water on the beach, or on a leaf-filled trail.