Calling all dog lovers here! Did you know that your pooch can be the best motivation to get fit! Whether it’s wrestling on the carpet in the living room or going for a run outdoors, having a dog has many benefits for your health.
I never was much of a walker on my own, but since having Sadie, I love an evening walk. After work, Paul and I will grab the leash and hit the sidewalk for a quick walk around the block and up the hill to a neighborhood park just up the street. There we let Sadie go wild! She runs in circles for a bit, goes and sniffs a spot, and then heads our way, begging to be thrown a stick for a game of fetch.
Having Sadie has made me more aware of our need to get out and “run wild”. With Sadie in the house all day, I feel obligated to give her a chance to spend some energy…otherwise she’d go absolutely crazy! But the same goes for us. Not getting enough exercise can play a big role in how we feel emotionally, physically, and mentally. When I neglect to take Sadie to get some exercise or don’t rough-house with her, she gets kinda mopey and sad…yes I sound like I treat her like a human and I do (no shame). But yeah, same goes for us…getting that blood pumping is vital to feeling good.
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Ok, so no I’m not always good about getting moving with my dog, because we all get lazy sometimes. But I will say that I never regret a good run with my girl! She helps me keep the pace and keeps me happy and feeling good about working out. And on those days when I’m just not feelin it during a run, at least I have someone to whine about it with. Here I go again, revealing how much I treat Sadie like my child.
I will say, though, that Sadie has not always been a great runner. I started training her to run with me when she was a year old, which was the recommendation from the vet. At first, she pulled at the leash soo hard I thought she was going to strangle herself. I tried everything I could think of to keep her from pulling, but the thing that worked best was a harness. I used to always scoff at people with their dogs on a harness cause it looked so silly and thought it was a pointless piece of equipment. But the harness helped train Sadie to not pull and also, I felt better when she did because I knew she wasn’t going to choke to death.
Ok, so here’s some ways your dog can help improve your overall health and fitness.
*adapted from Huffington Post article
- Improve heart health: having a dog is shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as overall heart strength
- Keep you fit and active: going for walks, runs, etc…
- Help you lose weight: from the increased activity level
- Improve social life: if you have a dog you know they attract the masses with their cuteness. And oftentimes, I have made friends from setting up “play dates” for our dogs
- Reduce stress: cuddling a puppy can reduce stress and anxiety. I love coming home and having Sadie run up to greet me with kisses!
These me are just a few of the benefits of having a dog for your health. Check out some of the others in the above article.
So how on earth do I train my puppy or dog to run with me? To some dogs, this comes natural, but for others…like Sadie at the beginning…it’s a little more challenging. I started Sadie off young, first of all. That helped get her use to running with me from the get go, and also at a time when she was being trained in other areas (Potty, staying in the yard, not chewing all my shoes…yeah, those were rough months). Another important thing is to be consistent. Just with parenting a child, when you want your dog to behave a certain way (or not behave a certain way), you must reinforce what you want from them every single time. This could be giving a little pull at the leash when they get a little too far ahead of you, or taking a few treats with you as a reward when they stay in line. Lastly, talk to your dog. I know it might be strange to some people (and others of you know exactly what I’m talking about), but your dog needs encouragement too! Just like you want someone cheering you on, they need a little “high five” sometimes to know they’re doing well. A happy dog is going to want to make you happy too!
Ok, so hope this is a little encouragement to get out here and give you and your dog some exercise! This time of year is the perfect time to hit the trails! Let me know how these tips have helped, or if you have any questions that I didn’t answer. Working out with your dog can be the best thing for yours and their health, and I promise, with a little patience, they’ll have it down in no time!