This Sporting Life – Get fit with your dog

Sporting ways with your dog

It seems that these days you cannot open a magazine or switch on the TV without seeing somebody flashing their abs or talking about their HIIT routine.  However, there are fun ways to get fit for dog lovers – by taking up a sporting activity with your dog or just building more exercise with your dog into your day.

Important!  Always check with your vet before taking up any of these sports with your dog and also check with your GP that you are fit enough.

There are all sorts of things you can do with your dog, but my favourite is walking.  Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life. Regular brisk walking can help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.  For your dog a good walk means lots of exciting smells, meeting and socialising with other dogs and people and keeping healthy.

For the more active

Agility

However, if your dog is very active any needs more than a good walk then how about channelling their energy into Agility.  Agility helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog. … Helping your dog to pass through agility obstacles will help reinforce basic obedience commands, improve dog/owner communication, and ultimately help to improve your dog’s behaviour outside of the agility course.

Flyball

Flyball is a sporting activity in which teams of dogs race against each other from a start/finish line, over a line of hurdles, to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught when the dog presses the spring-loaded pad, then back to their handlers while carrying the ball. This is run in teams of four dogs, as a relay.

And if you are ambitious two popular sporting activities you may have heard of are Canicross and Bikejoring.

Canicross

Canicross is simply cross country running with dogs.  Your dog is in a harness attached to you and you run in a team.  The dog runs ahead of you and you give specific directions through voice commands.

Any breed of dog can take part as long as he is fit and healthy and not too young (over 12 months is a good guide), and working breeds are particularly suited.

You need the right equipment – comfortable harness for your dog, a bungee line/lead and a waist/hip belt for you, the runner.  And you also need the right clothing: trail shoes for running off road, lightweight, breathable running gear and a waterproof jacket.

You can do Canicross in local woodlands or on forestry trails.  It is wise to mix up the types of terrain when training; hard ground is as important as soft ground but avoid too many miles on tarmac which can stress both human and dogs’ joints and pads. Listen to how your dog sounds as he runs.  Watch out for wheezing, check to see how he moves and whether the harness is fitting correctly.

Bikejoring

Bikejoring is like Canicross but in this case you are on a bicycle and your dog is attached to a towline and he runs ahead of you.  Again, it is vital to get the right equipment and to learn the main commands: directions and a “stop” or” steady”.  You can also try scootering with your dog, an activity very similar to Bikejoring.

For the hugely active

On a slightly different track, if you’ll excuse the pun, you could also enter triathlon events with your dog.  These comprise Canicross, Bikejoring and swimming with your dog.

All of these sporting activities have organized events across the UK.  Some of them get booked up really quickly, such as the Checkendon Challenge in Oxfordshire.  Go online to see if there are any events in your area.

And above all, have fun!

DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained here it is for educational purposes only. The writer of this article and Dog Hair Day can’t diagnose any physical, mental or behavioural condition in animals nor prescribe treatment. We urge you to consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog.

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