Woman running with dog
As we all know, dogs make wonderful companions and are usually content to do whatever their owners are doing, from taking a ride in the car to lounging around on the sofa on a lazy Sunday afternoon. However, having a canine companion gives you a great excuse to get out and exercise! Whether that means taking a brisk walk around your neighborhood or running along a park trail, you and your dog can both benefit.

Of course, before you initiate your shared exercise regimen, visit your physician and take your pet to his veterinarian. Your doctors can make sure there are no underlying health concerns that might prevent either of you from exercising and even recommend exercises that are right for you and your pooch.

The Advantages

Besides getting in better cardiovascular and physical shape, walking or running with your dog can also help:
  • Boost your mood
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Strengthen your bond with your pet
  • Keep you motivated to exercise regularly (Your dog will bug you to stick with your routine.)

    What Your Dog Gets Out of the Deal

    Running or walking with your dog isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for your dog. Exercising helps keep his heart, lungs, joints, and digestive and circulatory systems healthy, and it helps him control weight and expend energy. If you’ve ever noticed your dog racing extra fast around your house or yard (sometimes referred to as zooming), you’ve witnessed him trying to burn excess energy.

Regular exercise can also help keep your dog’s not-so-fun behaviors that may be associated with boredom under control. For example, it may help prevent destructive chewing, biting and digging, and can help calm anxiety.

Keep in Mind

Some dogs can run (or walk) farther and faster than people, but that doesn’t mean they should leap off the sofa and run for miles. Like people, if they’re just starting out, they need to build distance gradually.

It’s also a good idea to keep puppies from exercising too strenuously or for too long to avoid damaging their developing bones and joints. Your veterinarian can tell you when it’s safe to start exercising with your puppy and what type of exercise and duration are best. In addition, dogs who are older, may have arthritis or are recovering from an injury or illness will need to take it a little easier or exercise for shorter periods of time. For instance, you can switch from a 30-minute run to two shorter, low-impact 15-minute walks. Especially for older or recovering pets, swimming can be a good alternative to running or walking.

To prevent your dog from getting heat stroke, avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day, especially if you own a brachycephalic breed. Dawn, dusk and after dark are often the best times to run or walk.

The Ultimate Reward

Running or walking with your dog can keep you motivated to stay on track, so you get healthy together. Plus, what could be better than spending quality time with your best friend?

Tips for Protecting Your Dog’s Paws
  • In hot weather, walk your dog in grassy areas as much as possible to avoid burning his paws.
  • In cold weather, consider having your dog wear booties to prevent paw contact with abrasive ice and de-icing chemicals.
  • When you get inside, wipe off his paws.
  • Inspect his paws for cuts or nail damage after every walk or run.