Wag this Way: 4 Workouts You and Your Dog Will Love
by James Han
Your dog is more than a best friend — they’re part of the family. And just like you, your pup is prone to health problems if you don’t take them out to stretch their legs, burn off calories and get their heart rate up. In fact, studies show that more than 18 percent of dogs are obese, and one in five will experience joint issues at some point during their lifetime. So instead of the same old walk around the block, try one of the workouts below — it’s the leash you can do.
Why It’s Important to Keep Your Dog Active
First thing’s first — there are plenty of reasons why it’s critical that your pup gets enough sun, fresh air and exercise. Not only will it help prevent mobility issues such as hip dysplasia and arthritis from developing, but it can help keep weight-related issues like heart disease and diabetes at bay, allow them to satisfy their inner hunters and herders by exploring their surroundings, support their immune system, and help them socialize. If your pup needs an extra boost for their overall well-being, you can supplement their diet with our SmartyPaws formula, made with premium ingredients and packed with nutrients that can help support your pup’s hips, joints, gut health and more.
Doga (Dog Yoga)
Yoga may help you deal with burnout and stress, but bringing your dog into your practice — or doga — can be a great way to calm an energetic pup or rehabilitate a dog with injuries and stiffness. Plus, it’s a lot of fun, and the experience is less about getting your canine child in a pose and more about letting the two of you share quality time together on the same mat. Here’s a quick routine you can do any time of the day, from the comfort of your home (or a sunny spot in the park):
- Lay out your mat and invite your pup to join you.
- Start stretching while you let your dog observe you, mill around you (and between your legs) or altogether ignore you — the paw-ssibilities are endless.
- Get into chaturanga, a pose that resembles a push-up, and pet the back of your dog. (This will intensify the arm and core workout for you.)
- Go through your usual practice, letting your dog roam around the mat.
- Sit in meditation and place one hand on your heart and the other on your pup’s heart (if they want to stay still). Close your eyes and slowly breathe in and out through your nose at least 10-15 times.
Pro tip:Invite a friend (and fellow dog mom or pop) to do yoga with you while the two pups play on their own.
Playing fetch is a timeless ma-and-pup or paw-and-pup game, but kicking things up a notch with a Frisbee can be a great pastime for active and even hyperactive dogs. If you’re just starting out with a flying disc, here are some tips:
- Find an open, grassy space and bring your Frisbee as well as a pack of treats.
- Using the Frisbee as a bowl, place a few treats in it and let your dog eat out of the Frisbee.
- Roll the Frisbee on the grass and ask your pup to bring it back to you. Give them a treat and lots of praise.
- With your dog standing about five feet away from you, hold the Frisbee in your outstretched hand and encourage them to jump up to grab it from you. Once they do this, supply them with another treat.
- Finally, start tossing your disc in the air from a short distance away and encouraging your dog to grab it mid-air, increasing the distance between you and your pup the better they get.
- Remember to take your time — you may not be able to train them to catch a Frisbee until the second, third of fourth time you play!
Bringing your pup out on a trail can be a great alternative to concrete sidewalks for their sensitive paws. Plus, the uneven terrain will give them (and you) a solid workout. Don’t fur-get to practice good trail etiquette by bringing:
- A leash and harness (other hikers and runners will thank you).
- A doggie bag for any waste.
- A water bottle (as well as a collapsible doggie dish, if your pup can’t drink as you pour from the bottle).
- A safety flashlight to illuminate the path and give you and your dog some extra visibility if you’re venturing out after dark.
On summer days when it’s too hot or muggy for trail running and Frisbee — or if your dog suffers from arthritis or sore hips — take them to the beach, lake or a dog-friendly pool instead for some low-impact water activity. (It goes without saying — if your pup hates the water, don’t force them to go.) Bring a flotation device or life vest if it’s your canine’s first fur-ay into a body of water, and remember to keep a stash of separate drinking water for your dog. Here are some other tips:
- Don’t leave the shallows until they seem comfortable where they are.
- You can use a toy or treats to coax them toward the water.
- Swim for 10 minutes maximum to prevent your dog from drinking too much water (which might upset their tummy).
James Han is a writer, editor and content strategist based in Los Angeles. When he’s not deep in a Google Doc, you can find him reading, watching films and taking long walks.
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