Keep Your Pups Pumped and Healthy

by Blake Herzog

The paths of dogs and humans have converged so much over the years that many dogs face some of the same preventable health risks as their people — obesity, sedentary lifestyles and poor diet. 

These can lead to joint problems, heart disease, cancer and other ailments you never want to see your best friend go through. 

Many dogs are shadows to their human companions, following us around everywhere we go even if it is just to lie down under foot.

April happens to be National Canine Fitness Month, but fitness and health is a year-round project for everybody. Many dogs have the energy to keep themselves bouncing along for a decade or more, as long as they are given enough space to burn it off in backyards, dog parks and other arenas. 

Other canines, often but not always the older ones, don’t have the same drive to move — particularly if their owners don’t walk or play with them much. And, if owners give them excessive treats or food, especially “people food,” they’re not going to get the physical activity necessary to stay in shape. 

FitPAWS, which makes and sells fitness equipment for dogs including stability balls and rehab sets, has sponsored Canine Fitness Month since its 2017 beginnings and has lots of suggestions for keeping your pooch active and healthy — and yourself too, while you’re at it! 

Get walking! This is the obvious first and easiest exercise for most canine and human companions. One foot in front of the other, and the fresh air will do you both good.

Try active play. Throw a ball, stick or Frisbee in a safe environment, or better yet — run or jog with your pet to retrieve it.

Play hide and seek with your pet’s daily allowance of treats. Place them behind doors, under bowls and chairs. Make treating an active reward.

Raise the floor. Integrating a platform that can be climbed on or crawled under during the day is an excellent way to incorporate movement if space is small and the weather isn’t cooperating.

Many dogs are shadows to their human companions, following us around everywhere we go even if it is just to lie down under foot. Take advantage of this when starting a new workout routine. Encourage them to participate when you put in the cardio or yoga video. When you shuffle across the room, grab a toy and lure them to do the same.

Incorporate some of your pooch’s well-known obedience drills — like sit, stand, down — into your yoga routine. When you go into cobra, try asking your loyal pal to lie down. When you move into downward dog, have him sit.

Creating obstacle courses indoors and out is possible the whole year round. With a small amount of equipment or none at all, just moving rugs and chairs around to create obstacles will create a workout worthy of both human and canine. The key is to make movement fun for both of you!