5 Easy Ways to Combine Dog Walking and Exercise

It’s National Dog Walking Month, and for the seventh straight year, pet obesity is on the rise.

While weight gain is a complicated — and highly stigmatized – issue, most pets could benefit from walking more. As humans dive into New Years’ resolutions to get moving, here are some practical ways to incorporate more physical activity into your pet’s life too.

1. Turn walking into a game.

As the late walking expert Robert Sweetgall writes in “Ten-Minute Meals, Five-Minute Workouts,” turning a walk into a game can be a valuable way to squeeze more activity into your day. (Full disclosure: Co-author Pat Zak is my father.)

Try thinking about an M&M as you walk across a football field or walking until you find X amount in coins. Your dog can join you in this venture — with or without a tennis ball.

2. Make time for movement.

A walk doesn’t need to last an hour. Take a walk whenever you can, whether it’s five minutes with your pup before work or thirty over lunch.

A 2014 study found that little bursts of activity add up. Even adding three minutes of high-intensity movement to a week improved people’s heart health. Dogs need about the same amount of exercise as humans a day — 30 minutes to two hours, depending on their breed — and every minute toward that goal counts.

3. Take a hike.

Is there a place you’ve always wanted to see? Take your dog and explore.

The American Hiking Society has good resources for finding local dog-friendly trails. The Whole Dog Journal can help you bike alongside your pet, if you prefer.

Try snowshoes or cross-country skis in snowy areas. Remember to keep your dog on a leash in areas that demand it.

4. Walk your errands.

If you live in a central location, or can drive into town and park in a central location, you can walk your errands with your dog.

Bring a human friend to alternate watching the dog while the other shops. Alternatively, BarkPost is a good source for dog-friendly businesses where you can take your dog inside.

5. Play with your dog.

Studies show that playing with your dog keeps them fitter. Even if you can’t fit in a walk, you can fit in a quick game of fetch, wrestling or tug of war.

“Dogs that have the opportunity to play and exercise are generally happier, more emotionally stable and calmer than those who do not,” writes dog trainer Linda J. Brodzik. “Play allows an appropriate outlet for energy that would otherwise go elsewhere.”

Photo Credit: Luiza Sayfullina/Unsplash

314 comments

Mike R
Mike R3 months ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R3 months ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R3 months ago

Thanks

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Marge F
Marge F3 months ago

Thank you for posting this interesting article.

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Richard A
Richard A3 months ago

Thank you for this article and tips.

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W. C
W. C3 months ago

Thanks.

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Julia S
Julia S3 months ago

Thank you!

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William C
William C3 months ago

Thank you.

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Patrice Z
Patrice Z3 months ago

It is just so much fun to spend time with dogs.

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Renata B
Renata B3 months ago

I don't agree really with what Joan S says below that our dog is our protection. Fortunately we don't live in a dangerous area, but if we did, I wouldn't certainly wish to expose our dog to anything dangerous. Really I can't imagine a situation when this would be appropriate.

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