How to Keep Your Dog Safe While Exercising

The warmer months offer a great reason to get outside and get moving, but don’t forget about your dog. Dogs need regular exercise to prevent obesity, which can lead to conditions that negatively impact their bones, joints, and muscles such as arthritis. Additionally, many behavioral problems are the result of a lack of exercise. Your dog needs to move too, but it is important to keep them safe while they are doing it.

Start Slow

Like humans, you can’t expect your dog to jump right into a daily workout routine, especially if they have been mostly sedentary up until this point. Before you start exercising, consider paying a visit to the vet to make sure your dog is healthy enough to safely increase his or her physical activity to avoid causing injury or damage. Once you’ve got the green light, start out slow. Puppies will require short spurts of exercise rather than a strenuous jog or run, and should be allowed to walk, run, or play at their own speed. With an adult dog, you should work up to longer walks, runs, or other forms of physical activity. Pushing your dog too far can cause injury such as long-term joint damage, especially if your dog’s body isn’t well conditioned and prepared to handle sudden bursts of intense exercise. Start with consistent daily exercise to be safe, and aim for a minimum of 20 minutes of heart-thumping exercise, two to three times a week. Remember that your dog may have to adjust and work up to their activity goals, so be patient as they adapt to an active lifestyle.

Keep an Eye Out

Before venturing outside to exercise with your dog, check the temperature outside. Dogs can overheat easily, as they only sweat through the pads of their feet and lose body heat as they pant. Strive to exercise in the morning or late evening to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. It is important that you are able to recognize the signs of overheating, such as excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, or signs of agitation and confusion. Should this happen, move your dog to a shaded area and apply cool water to their skin, belly, and legs to cool them down, and then take them to a vet immediately, as heat stroke can be life threatening. To avoid overheating, keep your dog hydrated by offering water throughout the workout.

As you exercise, keep an eye on your dog and look for signs that they’ve had enough such as slowing their pace, lagging behind, or stopping. Allow them to rest and consider calling it a day. Give them a day or two to recover before starting up again. After any sort of exercise, you should check your dog’s feet for cuts, scrapes, or signs of worn down pads. If you worked out in a grassy or wooded area, take a quick look at your dog’s fur to remove any burrs or ticks. The end of every workout should be accompanied with a replenishment of fluids for both you and your pooch, and a period of rest.

Activities You Both Can Enjoy

There are a variety of activities that both you and your dog can enjoy together, such as walking, jogging, swimming, or playing fetch. If your dog especially loves walking, you might consider offering your services as a dog walker. The added pups will provide an extra fitness challenge to you and will be a great socialization opportunity for your pet.

If you’d like your dog to enjoy some off-leash fun, visit your local dog park and play a game of fetch. Choose a toy that your dog can hold in their mouth such as soft balls, frisbees, or squeaky toys. Steer clear of small toys that your dog can easily swallow, and never use a stick, as it can tear or puncture your dog’s mouth.

Avoid activities such as biking, as it will hard for most dogs to keep up. It could be dangerous if your dog runs free near the road, and the leash could get tangled in the wheels, causing potential injury to both you and your dog.

Exercising with your dog is a great start to a lifetime of health for the both of you. Adjust the exercise to the age and physical ability of your dog, and make sure they are safe to that you can both enjoy getting fit together.


Photo credit: Pixabay