Just like their human counterparts, pets need a fitness regimen to keep them on the path to good health. The key in any pet fitness regimen is you. As the owner, it is up to you to set the routine, find the motivation and get out there and exercise with your pet.
How do you find the motivation?
The secret is to build your pet's exercise routine into each week, just as you would an appointment to the vet, picking the kids up from school or going to work each day. If you schedule it like any other appointment, you're less likely to skip it.
What is optimal?
Most experts feel that a 30-minute routine four times a week is sufficient for a dog of normal health, although daily is even better if you have that much time to give. If you suspect that your pet has any physical limitations, you should consult your vet before beginning any exercise routine.
You have several options. You can either break your routine into two 15-minute sessions, or if you and your pet are up to it, you can do the full 30 minutes all at once. Exercise options that work:
- Play a vigorous game of fetch.
- Go for a long walk
- Go for a jog.
- Play a wild game of chase.
- If you have a water-loving breed, such as a Retriever, go swimming.
Any game you and your pet can play that will get her heart pumping will do the job.
Diet is a factor
Of course your pet's diet will factor into your exercise routine. A hardworking dog may need more nutrients, or if you are striving for weight loss for your pet along with your exercise routine, your dog may need a lower-calorie pet food. Either way you should check with your vet to find the diet that is right for your pet and her activity level.
What are the benefits?
The benefits you will experience for a regular exercise routine are endless:
- Pets who have had their bodies and their minds stimulated by regular play tend to act out problem behaviors less frequently.
- Your dog will be gaining social skills by interacting with you regularly.
- The bond between you and your dog will be strengthened, creating an even happier home life for you both.
- You will get exercise right alongside your pet.
- Your dog's health will be improved so that she can live a longer and healthier life.
To find other games you can play with your dog, check out these message boards:
To discuss pet food options for health and fitness,
To learn more about fitness for you, try these great iVillage resources: