VCA Animal Hospitals

You and your dog can keep each other fit

Published: Aug 27, 2012

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Dogs are wonderful companions for active individuals, because they need lots of exercise and attention throughout their lives. And while sometimes you may find yourself grumbling when you have to put on the raincoat or parka to take your canine out for her stroll, you may want to keep in mind that walking your dog isn't only good for her health, it can be good for yours as well.

Most dogs need to be walked three or four times a day, and once you get your canine into the habit, she'll probably remind you if she hasn't been out for a while. That wagging tail and expectant look could be just the motivation you need to get yourself up off the couch and out for some fresh air. Not to mention, regular walks and exercise are one of the best forms of treatment of dog obesity.

If you plan on walking your dog for weight loss purposes, you'll need to keep a few tips in mind, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. First, you'll need the right equipment. Short leashes are preferable over long or retractable leashes, as they will allow you to set a pace that will help your dog burn calories. You'll also want to opt for a head halter rather than a collar, as these can cause pain in dogs if they pull too hard. One essential item for every exercise walk is a bottle of water. There's a reason gyms have water fountains and bottles for sale - people need to hydrate when they exercise. The same can be said for your dog, especially in hot weather.

When setting out with your dog, keep in mind that she likely won't choose a walking pace that will help her lose weight. That's why you need to take control and help your dog move at a pace that will benefit her health. According to VCA, your objective should be to walk briskly from the beginning of the walk until you're back home. Keep the leash close to your body, within two to four feet, and move at a pace that you think you can keep up throughout the walk. Aim for between 12 to 15 minutes per mile. If you break into a light sweat, you're doing it right, and you can be proud that you're burning some calories yourself.

Of course, your first few times out, your dog will likely want to stop and sniff, but allowing too many breaks will slow down your pace and burn fewer calories for both you and your canine. VCA advises owners not to look down at their dog when they want to stop and sniff, but rather to tighten the leash, without jerking the animal, and urge them on by saying words like "come," "here," or whatever works best for your dog. Fortunately, most dogs will adjust to this type of exercise fairly quickly, and in no time both you and she might start to look slimmer and feel better!

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