Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine will help improve your balance and build strength to make your dog walks safer and more enjoyable.
As most of us already know, sharing your life with a dog comes with a lot of perks! When it comes to health, it can prompt you to be more active and helps improve mental well-being. In fact, studies show that dog parents spend close to 300 minutes each week walking their dogs – about 200 more minutes than those who are “dogless”.
But all that extra walking can take its toll if you’re not ready, especially if you have a larger or high-energy pooch. How many times have you been pulled down the stairs by a dog eager to get outside, or tripped over a four-legged friend in your path? Injuries typically happen when a dog pulls on a leash and walkers lose their balance. In recent years, hip fractures were the most common injury associated with dog walking, followed by wrist and upper arm fractures.
Training for better dog walks
Building strength and stability can help prevent injury and enable you to enjoy your dog walks even more than you already do! Here are some exercises to incorporate into your routine:
Stabilize your core
A strong core helps you walk on uneven terrain and stay upright when your dog pulls or jumps. Try planks, glute bridges, and supermans (lie on your stomach and slowly lift your shoulders and thighs off the ground, hold, then release).
Strengthen your ankles
Whether you walk or run with your pup, there’s always a risk of rolling your ankle. Opt for exercises that require you to balance on one leg at a time like tree pose or half-moon pose in yoga, as well as squat jumps to reinforce ankle stability.
Build the shoulders and arms
You need flexibility and strength in your upper body for throwing the ball, holding the leash and loading your dog into the car. Simple movements like single arm rows with weights, or push ups, are great ways to exercise your arms and shoulders. You can also raise a full water bottle in front of you at shoulder level – aim for 10-15 reps on each arm.
Build the quads and glutes
For stronger upper legs and glutes to help you keep up with your pooch, try squats with resistance bands, leg curls on an exercise ball and side lunges.
Workout WITH your dog
There are lots of exercises you can do with your dog that will give you a chance to build strength, keep your dog engaged and help sharpen his obedience skills. Here are some ideas:
- Push-ups on a picnic table or on the ground with your dog in a sit. See how many you can do before he stands up!
- Alternate walking, then jogging then sprinting.
- Several 30-second planks with your dog lying down nearby – you can even train him to lay across your shoulders if he’s small enough!
- Walking lunges with your dog heeling beside you.
- Dog yoga! Dogs read our energy and it calms them making this activity great for bonding.
Shake up your routine at least once a week, whether it’s a new route or a new exercise regimen like classes. Over time, both you and your dog will benefit!