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Resolving To Run With Your Dog

Six Top Training Tips

Can you believe it’s already January? That means it’s that time of year when people set unrealistic goals for themselves and ultimately give up three weeks later. That’s right, it’s time to make some New Year’s Resolutions – only this year I want to set you up for success, so you won’t quit before the month is over. In order to set a resolution that you’re likely to keep, it needs to not only be realistic and attainable, it needs to fit into your lifestyle.  

Being healthier / more active / losing weight are all very common resolutions, so we’re going to focus on these. If you already have a dog, you’re off to a great start! With simple tweaks to when and how you walk your dog, you can be on the way to a happier and healthier you (and dog!). If you don’t yet have a dog but are considering getting one because it would encourage you to be more active, first do some research to find the right breed for the type and amount of exercise you plan on doing.

When looking to increase your physical activity, either for general overall cardio health or to lose weight, you should start slowly and build up your intensity or duration. This works well for your canine companion as well, especially if your current walks are fairly short, or if your dog isn’t a natural-born runner. It’s true that certain breeds are not meant for running, but most dogs can safely join you for shorter distances. However, if running a marathon is your goal (good for you!) check with your vet to make sure that your dog can safely run that distance and intensity. If not, plan your run around doubling-back to the house to drop him off before finishing your training alone. While you may not find the pit-stop ideal, it’s certainly a better option than foregoing your run altogether – or carrying your fur baby halfway home.

Here are six ways for you and Bowser to get more exercise, and have fun doing it:

Mix it up:

Walk – jog – walk – run. Interval training is a great way to build up endurance. Going for a full-on jog or run sounds daunting; however, by breaking it up into manageable chunks you can walk one block, then jog the next block, followed by running, then walking and so on.

 

Go the distance:

Instead of thinking you have to pick up the pace on your walks, simply go further. Running isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Walking is excellent exercise with a host of health benefits.

 

Sometimes it IS the destination:
Some days you won’t be motivated to go for a walk without purpose. On these days, see if you can find an errand to run (pun intended). Instead of driving, walk to the store.     

 

Be playful:
Dogs need exercise, but that doesn’t just mean going for walks. Turn play-time with your dog into a workout. You don’t even have to leave the house for this one, making it great for rainy days. Play wrestling, chasing and playing tug-o-war are all quite exhausting. You and your fur buddy can tire each other out. Not convinced? Just give it a try ;)

 

Jump for joy:
The dog park can be a great place for your dog to burn off extra energy, and it can be for you as well. In between throwing the ball for your dog to fetch and him (hopefully) bringing it back to you, try doing some jumping jacks, jump squats, lunges or air punches. Challenge yourself to do X number of each exercise before your dog comes back with the ball, and then try to beat that number the second time.

 

Dress for the occasion:
It’s winter and I know I don’t have to tell you that it’s cold outside (duh!) but we don’t always think about how the cold affects our canine companions. Many of you may already have jackets for your dog, and that’s a great start, but when the ground is covered in snow, boots are a great addition to your dog’s winter gear. Snow, ice and salt are hard on their pads, and covering up can make longer walks more enjoyable on their paws.

Whether or not you already have a canine companion, I can personally attest to the fact that dogs make great training partners – I would have been much less prepared for my first 10K race if it weren’t for my faithful running companion. The simple act of going for a walk, let alone a run, always seemed to have more purpose when I brought Caesar with me. Before getting my own dog, I used to borrow my neighbour’s dog and run with him. Ace loved the extra attention and exercise, plus it gave me great insight into exercising with a canine companion. Their smiling faces and wagging tails make for great motivation – and nothing beats dog kisses as a thank you!

The key to living a healthy and active lifestyle is to make it just that – a lifestyle. Don’t think of your New Year’s Resolution as having an end date. By turning it into a lifestyle change you are much more likely to stick with it. Pretty soon you’ll forget that wasn’t always what your life looked like.

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy year ahead.

Kathryn Anderson is a health enthusiast, fitness instructor, avid traveller and animal-lover who loves inspiring others to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Find her online at http://coffeeandmascara.org.