Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Exercising Fido: Good for Both of You


© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
Tanner Loves to Catch the Frisbee

We've all read at least one article on losing weight that recommends getting a dog. The author invariably tells you that when you have the responsibility for walking a dog, you will get your exercise also. Good advice, as long as you take it. I just feel for the poor dog who was adopted and then left in the house all day every day to hardly see the light of day.

So, what are your options, if walking turns out to be the activity you just cannot get yourself to do? Try some of these:
  • Running...not likely, if you can't get yourself out for the walk.
  • Biking--faster and more exercise for you and the dog, in less time.
  • Roller blading: While this is Cesar Milan's first choice, it isn't the safest choice for many of us. His roller blades are more stable, but keep in mind your abilities and the size of your dog, before venturing out to try this.
  • The dog park: This is my dogs' favorite outdoor activity. There is nothing like off-leash running to get a dog well-exercised. Tanner is particularly fond of the socialization and the running. Did I mention that Tanner likes to run? Tanner will run for an hour and a half, until I tell him time's up. He knows he better come when I call, and he does. But, what about you? You can get exercise at the dog park too: (1) Walk the perimeter, keeping your eyes on your dog for that inevitable plop!, (2) Grab a few bags or a shovel and use your time to pick up missed doggie-piles and trash. I call this Adopt a Dog Park. Check out the link for more info.
  • Agility classes provide great discipline along with a dose of exercise. It is a wonderful way to bond with your dog, and you'll probably get more exercise than he does, once you get past the beginner level.
  • Swimming is Tanner's favorite thing to "beg" for. Although he doesn't truly beg, he stands by the French doors and gives me a "please can I go swimming" look that can melt me sometimes. He doesn't seem to tire of it, even though Xena and Oliver will be in and out in a flash. Tanner will swim for an hour and then collapse on the porch for a nice nap in the sun--every day, year round. There are some exceptions. When we had our 7 nights of freezing temperatures recently, I didn't let him swim much. Poor guy. He gazed at the pool as if it were his long lost love and he couldn't give her a hug and kiss.
  • The treadmill is a great tool, but you need to learn how to do this the right way. I recommend checking out one of Cesar Milan's books for instruction.
  • Playing Fetch or Frisbee for 20-30 minutes is a great workout for both of you. You can also turn this into a good training session for the fetch and drop it commands. There have been more than a few instances when I was glad Tanner knows drop it. Have you ever tried to pry open the jaws of a 57 pound dog? It's nearly impossible.
There are a number of devices out there that are aids for biking with your dog. I just hold the leash and go, but some people find that their dogs pull a bit too much. You can check out the possibilities for some of these gadgets that attach to the frame of your bike, and with a stretchy attachment, won't pull you over.

Whatever you do to exercise your dog, remember who is in charge (YOU!) and make sure you are both having fun. Finally, keep in mind that you start the exercise, and YOU decide when to end it. No discussions on his with Fido! You're the boss.

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