A 2017 study found that 64% of Canadian adults over the age of 18 are overweight or obese and although it’s hard to get a good handle on rates of pet obesity in Canada, estimates in the U.S. suggest it affects between 35 and 55 per cent of pets.
So who better to be your workout buddy than your pooch? Not only can you both improve your health, but it’s also fun and a great means of strengthening your bond. There are several ways to kick up a dog-walking adventure to make it more of a workout that will benefit you both.
Pick Up The Pace
Similar to humans, there are a number of health risks in overweight dogs, including high blood pressure, type two diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Even before these issues arise, overweight dogs have a decreased quality of life on the whole. Just as your lifestyle can impact your health, your weight can affect your lifestyle, and this is true with dogs too. Walking is one of the best ways to help shed extra pounds, but a leisurely stroll isn’t enough. Take the first 5 minutes of your dog’s walk to warm up, then increase your pace to something quicker than your average.
Try Interval Walking
If keeping a quick pace for a long period is too much for you or your dog, give intervals a try. Walk for a short span of time – like 20 seconds – at a fast pace, and then slow down for a rest period (say, a minute). Then repeat this pattern. This is a highly customizable method, and there are a number of benefits to interval training, including improved weight loss. Once you’re comfortable with a certain amount of time at a certain pace, increase one or the other. It’s helpful if you can teach your dog some cues so they know when to speed up and when to slow down. When speeding up, try a simple verbal cue like, “Let’s go!” When slowing, decide on a phrase, such as, “OK, OK”, or “Woah,” and stick to it so that your dog learns the rules. Also make sure to use a harness instead of a regular collar to avoid any accidental pulling on doggo’s neck, which might happen while they’re learning to slow down.
Incorporate More Challenging Terrain
Along with adjusting the pace and length of your walk, another strategy for souping things up is to include inclines and declines. Doing more than just walking a straight, level path will work more muscles and burn more fat, not to mention that it keeps things interesting. Hiking is great for this, but city-dwellers can seek out areas with hills, and even incorporate outdoor stairs.
Though getting Fido fit may seem tricky at first, it really isn’t. Dogs are naturally playful, curious and adventurous, which makes walking off some weight an exciting and easy process for them – and for you.