Last updated: May 13. 2014 8:14AM - 1048 Views
By Kathy Hansen

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This week while I was taking our dog, Ms. Tia Maria Hansen on her walk, I remembered that my column is due. As sometimes happens with great writers and also with marginal ones like me, inspiration can strike at any moment. So, for your reading pleasure and an extra page to line the dog cage I present: “Exercising with your Dog.”

According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are approximately 77.5 million dogs with owners in the United States. That is a bunch of dogs looking for a human workout partner. Dogs, like people, come in all sizes, shapes and models and one thing is for certain: Both need to exercise.

Humans and canines were designed to be in constant motion. From early history, dogs and humans tracked down their next meal on foot. Fast forward to the present and both of us need only to walk as far as the refrigerator or the nearest dog bowl to eat.

There are strong parallels between why human and dog physical activity is limited. For us it is cars, desks and computers, while for dogs it is kennels, crates and too much time cooped up indoors. Obesity, diabetes, joint pain, feelings of stress and other chronic problems also affect people and dogs in similar ways. Therefore, exercising together can benefit the both of you.

Let’s look at some of the perks of pounding the pavement with your pooch:

— Maintaining a healthy body weight: Lots of calories are burned for you and your dog during a brisk walk and/or jog. Just 30 minutes each day can make a difference for the both of you.

— Time savings: Exercising with your pet is a huge time saver. Getting them out and moving takes care of their toileting needs, and is a great time to work on obedience training. For you it is a chance to get in that much needed walk or run.

— Stress management: Exercise will benefit the both of you on an emotional level. The endorphins that are released from exercise can elevate the mood of both you and your pooch. According the experts, dogs that chew, tip the garbage and perform other random acts of vandalism in your home do so because of pent-up energy, not because they are getting back at you for leaving them alone.

— Safety in numbers: If you are jogging or walking, it is much safer to have a big or even a small protective dog along if you are exercising alone. Just make sure to keep him on a leash so he does not run off and get the both of you in trouble.

Keep in mind that the breed of your dog may affect your workout. Short-legged dogs like a Dachshund or Pekinese will not last as long as a larger breeds. If your furry friend is vertically challenged, you can squeeze in some strength training carrying him back home.

Exercising with your dog will be fun and beneficial to your health. Make sure to pick up after your pooch, watch out for cars and most of all enjoy the company.

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