Experts say studies show dog owners walk more, walk faster, and are more likely to enjoy an active lifestyle because of their companion animal. "I'm fascinated by what a great motivator dogs can be," said Dr. Sandra McCune, co-editor of the book, "The Health Benefits of Dog Walking for People and Pets." McCune, an animal behaviorist based in Leicestershire, England, said studies show if you're a dog walker, you're more likely to meet the guidelines for daily activities. Dogs are the reason behind two-thirds, 66 percent, of the walks their owners take each week, according to a recent survey of more than 1,011 adults commissioned by pet food company Mars Petcare. One-quarter of people with children and pets regularly visit parks and other outdoor spaces because of their dog. "Personally, I have a Labrador," McCune said. "When it's dark, when it's raining, the dog needs a walk, every day."It is true - personally, I feel much better since I got my dog. But not only walking is healthy, but also, as I mentioned above running; 9 tips for running with your dog:
- TALK TO YOUR VET "Do not begin an exercise program without first consulting your physician." It is in the fine print of nearly every gym membership form and for good reason. This is smart advice not just for you but for your dog as well. Since dogs don’t complain like us, they may have a nagging health issue that you are unaware of. Be sure to tell your veterinarian that you plan on exercising with your dog, so they pay extra close attention to their heart, lungs and joints.
- KNOW YOUR BREED Certain breeds of dog are better suited for distance running than others. Shepherds, terriers, retrievers and other working dogs are built to run long distances, while others are not. If you own a small dog that looks like it could star in a Taco Bell commercial, it is recommended that they stick to walking. A list of breeds that make good running partners can be found at Dogbreedinfo.com.
- BUILD UP GRADUALLY While you may want to train like Rocky Balboa right out of the gate, that is not a safe option for your pet. Like any person, a dog who hasn't exercised before needs to work his way up. The pads on a dog’s paws are very sensitive and must be toughened up with gradual increases in mileage.
- WATCH YOUR PAWS Be aware of the type of surface you are running on. Hot blacktop, jagged ice, glass and other roadside debris can cause injuries. If your dog starts to limp or lick its pads, stop the workout immediately. Until they come out with running sneakers for dogs, you must inspect your dog’s pads before and after outdoor workouts for cuts.
- STAY HYDRATED Good advice for you and your pooch; make sure your buddy has water before and after your workout. If you plan on running long distances, it is smart to bring water with you. When your dog gets tired, it will look to drink water from puddles. Make sure you don't allow this as that water is high in toxins and contaminants, which can make your dog sick.
- LISTEN TO WHAT HE'S SAYING Dogs can't talk, but foaming at the mouth, heavy panting, glazed eyes and slowing down are sure signs that your dog is being overworked and should take a break. Don’t worry: it won't be long before you're the one panting and in need of a break if not already.
- SHIT HAPPENS It’s just a fact of life. Another fact is that, depending on where you live, you could be facing a hefty fine for not picking up after your pet. The “but I’m in the middle of a workout” excuse probably won’t work with the police.
- LEASH YOUR DOG Leashing your dog will keep both of you under control and will ensure your pet keeps pace. Avoid using retractable leashes. They provide too much room between you and your training partner and can tangle. A three- to six-foot leather leash should provide the right amount of distance.
- KEEP YOUR PAWS CLEAN Salt and dirt from the road can get in between your dog’s toes, causing irritation and even infection. Cleaning your dog’s paws with a warm, soapy rag after your run will take care of this problem. To sum up, try to spend your time in an active way with your furry friend - your dog will appreciate it and for you it will be of great help on your way to be fit and healthy.