Why Workout with Our Pet?
It’s not just people who are facing a growing obesity problem in the United States. Believe it or not, our pets are also getting fatter. While this trend can affect virtually any type of pet, it is most often seen in dogs. When your dog carries too much weight, it will have a greater chance of developing joint problems, respiratory cancer, diabetes and other systemic difficulties. Like humans, dogs have evolved over time to be very active. But the realities of modern day life (including an increasing number of us living in homes or apartments with no or very small yards) simply don’t provide the automatic opportunities for exercise. So it takes a concerted action on your part to get yourself (and your pet) enough exercise. Use Your Imagination.
Taking your dog for a walk or a jog is a great way for both of you to get some exercise, of course. But don’t assume that those are your only possibilities. The most important aspect of working out is movement. You can also play fetch, play Frisbee or simply “freestyle” play and just goof around with your dog in the park. Focus on the experience of interacting with your dog rather than any firm performance goals or other measures. If you like more structure, you could even consider taking part in various “agility” events for dogs.
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Take Advantage of Multitasking Possibilities. Starting a new exercise program doesn’t have to be a significant time burden. Instead of thinking about taking your dog for a walk to be a separate task on your “to do” list, start thinking of it in terms of an opportunity for you and your dog to get a little exercise together. And if you can get other family members to come along with you, then you are really multitasking.
Your Pet will Keep You Honest. You probably already know how your dog is a creature of habit. Exercising should be no exception. Once you start with your pet exercise routine, your dog will expect you to follow through. The flipside of this is also a big positive. When your dog has more structure in its daily routine, he or she is significantly more likely to be better behaved in general.
Pay Attention to Your Dog. Whatever you do, make sure to pay close attention to how your dog responds to any new exercise. Some breeds overheat more easily than others, while some can’t keep themselves as warm. Some breeds simply don’t have the leg and hip structures, or the respiratory system, to handle strenuous activity.
Your dog may want to continue playing, but if they seem unable to catch their breath or are experiencing other difficulties, then take a break or stop for the day. If you have a cat, you probably won’t be doing any of these things for exercise. But that doesn’t mean you can’t introduce a little more activity into your pet’s daily routine. Even something as simple as a dangling toy connected to a lightweight pole or stick with a string can be enough to get your cat plenty of exercise every day.
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