Exercising with your dog

I hate exercising. It’s not that I don’t like running, swimming… but I hate the whole process of dressing up, remembering what to bring, how uncomfortable the bag is gonna be, what path you’ll have to take, how to get there… Yes, I’m annoyed before even starting.

But one that doesn’t give a damn about all that and loves exercising, is Djinn. And that’s a pretty good motivation to get out and move! Exercising with your dog can be tricky in a city, but here is some advice.

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The spring in the leash and the padded belt relieve my back when Djinn is pulling.

Running with your dog

How does it work?
You’re a regular jogger? Things should be pretty easy. Running with your dog is actually an excellent extra cardio exercise! How? Well…Let me break it down to you… If your mind is set on running those 6 kilometers without stopping and better your record, your dog, on the other hand, has better plans. Those plans being sniffing every post he meets on the way. You’ll stop every 10 seconds to wait for him and feel your heart dying from the skip of rhythm. But – hey! – good cardio!
You and your dog will need some time to adjust to running together. Take 5 minutes before starting to run to let him do his business. Once started, gently pull on the leash when you see him getting close to a post and find a word to keep him focus. I use “go!” in an encouraging voice and congratulate him when he moves on without stopping.

What you will need…
If you live in the city, you’ll need to keep your dog attached. A harness is better than a collar in case he suddenly halts. You can use a leash but, to free my hands, I use a special belt and a leash with a spring in it. Now he can pull all he wants: it won’t hurt my back. Also, keep a plastic bag in your pocket to clean after him if needed.

Pros:

  • It’s an activity you can do everywhere.
  • You can run with any kind of dog, you’ll just need to adjust to his rhythm at first.

Cons:

  • If your dog has no discipline, it will soon get annoying.
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Make sure to stay on safe pathways when cycling with your dog. (Illustration picture: Tony Alter/Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Cycling with your dog

How does it work?
Simple: you, your dog, a bike. In a city, add a leash and things gets complicated. Riding a bike with your dog is really good for big dogs who need exercise. It’s easier to get him tired before you actually die. Just remember:
– In a city: learn how to ride a bike holding your dog first. He needs to stay on your side and keep up with the bike without making you fall. I use the city bikes for that: in Lyon, the “Vélo’v” are extra heavy and it’s easier to stay on track if Djinn suddenly pulls to go meet a fellow dogmate. Also, always stay on the cycling tracks and as far away from the road as possible. Watching out for your dog, yourself and keeping an eye on cars/scooters/pedestrians is just too much to handle. Stay safe.
– In the countryside or in the forest: always keep an eye on your dog to make sure he didn’t wander off and use pathways you know he’ll also be able to take. Wait for him or help him if you see him struggle: the stress of catching up with you can make him take a bad decision and hurt himself on sharp rocks or slip in a water stream.

What you will need:
Anything you need to ride a bike. Bring a leash even if you didn’t plan to attach him in case there is a problem on the way. Remember to bring along a water bottle for you and for him. He’ll be really thirsty after keeping up: I use a special dog water bottle, with a little tank attached to it. So it’s easier to drink without emptying half of the bottle on the floor in the process.

Pros:

  • Really good exercise for you and for him. Djinn doesn’t move for the rest of the day after 2 hours of cycling.
  • You don’t need extra equipment.

Cons:

  • Not all dogs can’t run after a bike. Don’t bring puppies or old dogs along. Ask your vet if it’s a good idea first.
  • It’s hard to cycle in a city.

 

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You can build your own agility trail or find one close to your home. (Illustration picture: Stiller Beobachter/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Agility

How does it work?
If you thought agility is just exercise for your dog, think again 🙂 I end up winded and shaking long before Djinn starts panting. Agility is basically a fitness trail for your dog. Stairs, swings, slalom… There are many challenges for an untrained puppy! You can either use an agility park if there is one you can use close to your place or make your own obstacles at home.
Then, start running! The point of the agility trail is to make your dog cross every obstacle without stopping… And your dog doesn’t really see the point in that. So you’ll start over, over and over again. But he’ll love this because you’re giving him your full attention and playing with him. Just make sure to reassure him if one of the obstacles is scaring him.

What you will need:
Agility park can be hard to find. Look around for agility clubs around your house. Some cities build agility park close to dog park and some agility clubs let you use their equipment.

Pros:

  • Your dog will have the best time playing and running with you.
  • Any dog can try agility. Some obstacles might be harder for young/old/small dogs but make sure to guide them.

Cons: 

  • It can be hard to find a agility park or to build one from scratch.

 

 

Please note that any information given here is coming from my personal experience. Please make sure to ask a veterinarian for advice before exercising with your dog, especially if your pet has heart or breathing problems.

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