As well as walks, which are the baseline of dog ownership I guess, there are plenty of ways to merge spending time with your furry best friend with your fitness goals.
One of the best things about dog ownership for me – other than the unconditional love bit – is the fact that even the smallest breed needs a minimum of 2 good walks per day. Why is this a good thing I hear you ask? Well, when the weather is terrible and the indoors looks far more appealing than the outdoor option, the fact that you need to get out there to let your pooch do its thing means that there are absolutely NO EXCUSES.
Not feeling like getting off the sofa? Your dog simply won’t take no for an answer
Getting the coat, hat, gloves and scarf on might be a bit daunting but I guarantee that once you are out there you’ll be happy to be partaking of the air (no matter how ‘fresh’ it is) and that you’ll feel so much better for doing it. Winter is the time when most of us feel at our lowest and the temptation to enter hibernation is very real. Having a reason to get out – even if it’s just for two 20 minute walks around the block – is a genuinely good thing. More often than not, once you get out there, you’ll find yourself enjoying a longer trek across the parks and fields and, before you know it, you’ve got a 5 mile walk under your belt, early doors.
Standard ‘necessary’ walks aside, being a dog parent gives you the perfect excuse to meet up with friends and family in the great outdoors. Many pubs, cafes and restaurants are now dog-friendly so why not combine a lovely country walk with a catch up over coffee and a sandwich. Even the naughtiest of treats seem much more acceptable if there’s been a calorie-burning workout to be had on the way!!
Canicross might just be the sport for you both
There are a number of sports and activities that you can try which include your four-legged companion. Canicross is one such sport and it’s been growing in popularity over the last few years, with many clubs popping up across the country. It’s essentially cross country running with your dog and involves you working together as a team. There are a few basic equipment needs including a canicross harness for your pooch, a canicross belt for yourself, a bungee line (in place of a lead) and a good pair of running shoes. There are a number of breeds which absolutely love this activity but, regardless of the size, make and model of your best friend, it’s worth getting in touch with your local club to see what’s expected and gauge its suitability for you both.
Dog Agility too is a great thing to try. Despite the fact that the dog is doing most of the hard stuff by going over the obstacles, through the tunnels and across the elevated walkways, you’ll find that running alongside can be appropriately challenging. Again, there are hundreds of clubs throughout the UK, and many allow participation just for fun (and fitness) rather than having to aim for a Crufts centre-ring performance!
Enjoy the air, enjoy the exercise and build the happy bond
Much has been said about dog ownership being one of the very best things to boost mental well-being and I wholeheartedly believe that to be true. The bond between a dog and owner is one of the strongest known (stronger even than your bond with your PT!) so the opportunity to involve your furry bestie in your training can take the feel good element of your programme up another notch.