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We all know how important consistent exercise is to maintain a healthy weight, keep your muscles and joints flexible and live a longer, happier life, but it can be hard to stick with a consistent routine. Exercising with your pet can be a great way to feel motivated to live a more active lifestyle and to have a lot of fun with your furry companion. Also, interacting with your pet has been shown to decrease blood pressure and can increase "feel-good" hormones in your body.
To keep you and your pooch motivated, Pet Expert Andrea Arden lists several fitness routines and gadgets:
WalkingThe simplest exercise is one of the most beneficial — walking. This is a great way to start slow. If possible try to stay on dirt or grass paths as too much walking or running on concrete can stress joints and irritate your dog's pads and also heat your pet up more quickly as the concrete absorbs heat. You might consider a cooling vest for your pet if you plan to exercise outdoors. When you put this in ice water it will 'charge' in 15-20. It was originally developed for working dogs used in Iraq.
Cooling Vest; $99;
Depending on where you live, another good, low stress option is swimming. However, safety is a concern here as not all dogs are terrific swimmers and even those that are will sometimes have so much fun that they over exert themselves. So keep an eye out for fatigue at all times and you might even consider having them wear a doggie life vest Ruff Wear K-9 Float Coat.
Ruff Wear K-9 Float Coat; $59.95;
CyclingBiking is a good option if you are sure to keep rides short, especially if you are biking on a road. Since it is not safe to hold your dog's leash you should secure your dog to the bike so you can keep both hands on the handlebars using a device like this.
Walky Dog Bike Leash; $39.95;
GolfingAnd since there are so many people out there who love golf, a great way to include your dog as you practice your swing is to use the Doggy Driver. You can swing the golf club and have your dog chase after the ball. The doggie driver launches the ball up to 100 yards and it swings just like a normal golf club.
If it's really hot outside and you don't have access to a pool to take your dog swimming, consider setting up an indoor obstacle course at home. You can put your pet on pet steps next to a footstool and create low jumps using objects found in your home like a cardboard box put in the middle of a doorway or two chairs and a broom and have your dog fetch something as he goes up the steps and/or back and forth over the low jump. You can also teach your dog to run through a tunnel to fetch something by using a child's tunnel or an open cardboard box. When the weather permits you can increase the course and move it outdoors so you and your pet can both run.
Remember that our pets are not as good at cooling down as we are since they release most of their body heat just through panting and their paw pads. So, keep them hydrated, keep sessions short, and keep an eye on them for signs of fatigue.