It won’t surprise you to hear that “Getting more exercise” is among the most popular New Year’s resolutions. It also won’t surprise you to hear that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February.
But don’t be discouraged! People who exercise with their dog buck that trend. And while your pup may not be allowed in the gym, she may be the perfect outdoor walking or jogging partner. Just be sure she’s ready for the workout—especially if you live in a place where it’s cold this time of year.
Check with the vet.
Just how you should consult your doctor before you jump into a new exercise routine, consult your vet about your dog. Ask for advice—based on your dog’s age, breed, or health—to keep your dog safe. Even if she’s cleared, keep an eye on her during walks and runs for signs of exhaustion, like heavy panting, trouble breathing, serious lagging behind or disorientation.
Ease into it.
Again, just like us, dogs shouldn’t go from couch potato to distance runner right away. Start at a slower pace on shorter routes and stay close enough to home that you can cut out easily if you need to. Always have water on hand, even on short strolls.
Be mindful of the weather.
Each dog is different, based on breed, background, and, frankly, their preference. Just know they can’t retain heat the way we do. A coat may help, but be sure it fits well, and still watch your dog for cues that indicate she’s too cold. Plus, snow and ice can be hard on dogs’ paws. Be sure to clean them well after each excursion to remove all salt from between their pads.
As your resolution becomes routine, make sure your dog is getting enough healthy calories to make up for what she’s burning. If you’re not sure about amounts, consult your vet.