Get Fit and Active with Your Dog

Erica C. Boling, PhD
Northeast K9 Conditioning

Do you struggle to get or stay motivated when it comes to exercise? Are you one of the many people who know you should be exercising more, but you find it’s not high on your list of daily priorities? Do you sometimes feel guilty because work and family obligations prevent you from having quality training or fun time with your dog?

I have the solution for you! 

It involves having the perfect workout partner, your dog! This is one exercise buddy who will never let you down and who will love and appreciate every second you spend together! You might not love walking, hiking or running simply for the sake of exercise, but I promise you will be more motivated to get out and be active when you have the perfect exercise partner by your side!

It makes it challenging sometimes when you’re trying to get out the door, but the comforts of home are calling. I promise you’ll be much more motivated when you take your dog with you to exercise! Not only is it great exercise, but it’s also an amazing bonding experience with your dog. An added bonus is that both you and your dog exercise together, and this saves so much time. Instead of trying to find time to exercise your dog while also squeezing in your own gym workout, you can now do your workouts together. You will both reap the physical, psychological, and emotional benefits of exercise! 

If you are interested in getting fit and active with your dog, here are some tips for getting started!

  • Make sure you and your dog are healthy and capable of participating in regular fitness activities. Any structured fitness activities such as running and cycling with your dog should only be done with adult dogs who are physically mature and healthy. Check with your veterinarian to make sure it’s ok to proceed with your dog.
  • Start slowly and gradually increase your exercise intensity and duration. Ideally, you want to exercise with your dog a minimum of 3 days per week to see improvement. If you are doing activities on a regular weekly basis, a good rule of thumb is to increase weekly exercise no more than 10% each week. (For example, if you are walking 3 miles with your dog multiple times per week and ready to go further, increase your mileage no more than 3% in a single week.)
  • Be honest about you and your dog’s current fitness level. If you only get one 30-minute exercise routine once or twice a month, think of you and your dog as beginners. Start slowly by being consistent one day per week, then gradually make your exercise routine last longer and then add more days.
  • If you currently don’t exercise on a regular basis, you have to create new habits and routines. This isn’t easy to do! However, research shows you are more likely to succeed if you can link new behavior to a triggering event, which is an event that you are already doing on a regular basis. This event will then “trigger” your new habit…exercising! Here’s an example. Suppose every day that you come home from work you get the mail out of the mailbox. This can become your trigger, and getting the mail now means going for a 20-minute walk (or run) with you dog before (or after) you get your mail.
  • Write down your weekly goals. Research shows by writing them down; you are more likely to achieve them! Did you know that BabelBark’s phone app has a journal feature where you can write down your daily and weekly goals? Give it a try and see your weekly activity increase! You can also use the app to set reminders for writing down your goals and getting outdoors with your dog!
  • Does your dog need some additional obedience training? Not a problem! Simply integrate training into your weekly exercise program. You’ll enjoy your time together much better if your dog is well-behaved! Need some help with unwanted behaviors? Use the BabeBark app to find local pet care provider services, including local dog trainers! 
  • Stay motivated over time by documenting your daily and weekly activity. When you see all that you’ve accomplished over the last few weeks, you’ll be even more motivated to keep going! I love using BabelBark’s health monitor to document and chart my dog’s weekly activity. Just attach the monitor to your dog’s collar and pull up your activity data right onto your phone. I love following our progress on my phone and am always eager to see what we’ve accomplished immediately after our runs!

So are you ready to get started? Do you already have a way to document your daily and weekly activity? If not, download BabelBarks phone app today (it’s free!) and check out the health monitor they created for dogs. Next, identify what event will “trigger” your weekly exercise activity and get started! Not sure what kinds of activities to do with your dog? Be sure to check out BabelBark’s Fun Fitness Tips for You and Your Dog blog!

Pet Parents