Let me first state that I am not advocating getting a dog solely for the purpose of wanting an exercise partner. Yes that is definitely one great advantage to having a dog, however owning a dog has a hefty amount of responsibility and I would hate for anyone to get a dog and neglect him or her. That’s just not right.
Coming from someone who’s had a dog practically my entire life, they become more than just a mere pet. They are considered one of the family. There are many dog owners out there that feel the exact same way and would never think of mistreating or being cruel to their furry friend.
A Dog Is A Great Exercise Partner
I adopted my black lab mix from a local Petco store when they had a Beagles for Buddies event and that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My dog Ace has been with me now for over four years and aside from being a super cool dog with a funny, outgoing personality, over the last two years he has become an excellent running mate.
What I love about my exercise routine is that it has become something I can rely on week after week. I now run with my dog every week on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. When I attend my boot camp class on Wednesday and a tennis session on a Saturday or Sunday, I now routinely get five (sometimes even six) workouts in a week.
This is 5-6 workouts every week when a little over three years ago I used to get 0 workouts per week!
One the days after a rough time at work when I don’t feel really motivated to go out and run for an hour, in the past it was always easy to convince myself that it’s OK to miss that workout. Unfortunately, one day always turned into two which soon led to an entire week or more away from exercise.
This was often the moment of my downfall and why I always abandoned my intentions to exercise regularly.
These days even when I may be a little bit exhausted, my dog never fails to remind me when it’s 7pm and comes inside wagging his tail bursting with excitement because he knows it’s time to go out for a run. Seeing how enthused and happy he gets looking forward to running with me I usually stick with my routine without hesitation. I still don’t understand how he knows it’s that time almost to the minute.
Even on the days when I go to Boot Camp class, I have gotten into the habit of biking my dog for 20 minutes beforehand so he gets to workout and burn off some of his energy too. I also do something similar when I go up to Big Bear to snowboard. Before hitting the slopes in the morning, I take Ace on an hour off-leash hike in the forest which he loves to do – running free all over the place.
Those of you who already have a dog but have yet to start a consistent workout routine, you should really think about walking/running with your dog. You may find this is exactly the type of motivation you need to stick with the routine consistently.
If you are completely new to exercise, take it slow and always be safe. Gradually build up your stamina and duration. Watch the road/ground where you pass, and pay attention to your footing especially on uneven ground. If you are going out at night, be sure to wear reflective clothing or even blinking lights on your waist or shoes so drivers can easily see you.
One of the only tools you’ll need is a metal “choke” collar to help prevent your dog from pulling or leading you on the walk/run. In addition, some plastic bags in case your pooch needs a bathroom break (I use supermarket bags that I save in a drawer) and you may want a small self-defense tool like a zapper/flashlight combo or a small handheld pepper spray.
I like to be prepared just in case I come across a stray animal or anything else that may jeopardize my safety. After 3+ years of running I have yet to use my pepper spray but I always maintain the mindset “better safe than sorry”.
Hopefully this article got your thinking of the positive healthy habit you can develop with your four-legged friend. Have fun out there and be safe!
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