Dog owners have a duty to make sure their canine gets the exercise he or she needs to stay healthy and strong, but we also need to look after our own bodies. Juggling work and other responsibilities means we have a very limited window in the day for exercise, but it is possible for both you and your dog to get the workout you both need by doing it together.
1. Two sessions per day
While different breeds require different durations of exercise, every dog should have at least two dedicated exercise sessions per day. For those of you with full-time, office-hour jobs, the most natural times to have these sessions is first thing in the morning and after work. However, depending on your work schedule and home responsibilities, you may need to adjust this.
N.B. Until your dog is an adult (usually around 12-18 months), they may not be able to accompany you on long exercise sessions. According to pet experts James Wellbeloved, puppies should only receive 5 minutes of exercise per month of their age in each session. For example, a 5-month-old puppy should not exercise for more than 25 minutes in one sitting, or else they risk injuring themselves. As your dog reaches adulthood, you will be able to enjoy longer sessions together.
2. Take your dog somewhere you both can get a range of exercise
The exercise your dog needs the most is cardio. This means getting outdoors even in winter, and stretching their muscles with long walks, chasing balls, and playing with other dogs. To do this, you will want to go somewhere with big open spaces, where other dogs come to play, and where you can keep an eye on your dog while completing your own routine. Parks and beaches are best.
Lots of cardio exercise you can do together. You can run alongside one another, chase each other for quick bursts, and even cycle with your dog on a lead. If you want to do some strength training, go to a park with exercise equipment or otherwise find a space where you can do crunches, push ups, etc. If there are other dogs around, encourage your dog to play with them while you do your routine. If you are on your own, take a toy and throw it for your dog in between sets.
3. Let your dog dictate your routine
If your dog is panting excessively, regularly lying down, or lagging behind on the lead when you are running or cycling, he or she needs a break; never force them to exercise more than they can. Let them rest whenever they need it and, in some cases, you may need to force a break—for example, some dogs won’t stop chasing a ball no matter how tired they are, so you might need to remove it from them.
Use your dog’s rest periods to switch to some on-the-spot training. Later, when they have recovered, you can carry on with your cardio.
4. Stay safe and bring water
Both of you should always have access to plenty of water if you need it, so bring two large bottles with you on every outing. If the sun is out, make sure you exercise somewhere where your dog can retreat to shade at any point (remember, dogs cannot cool themselves with sweat like we can, so they overheat much faster). Finally, always put your dog above your own exercise. Make sure you work out somewhere where you can always see your dog and be sure he or she is safe.