As a fitness professional, I’m of course extremely serious when it comes to fitness. Seeing all the Facebook ads with 5 minutes workouts that will change your body in no time or the one-week diets that will make you lose 20 pounds makes me mad and at the same time sad. I know a lot of good and willing people will throw their money at these people in the hopes of finally getting the body they have always dreamed of. Becoming fit requires hard work and dedication - end of story.
However, being serious about something doesn't mean that you can’t have fun - actually I would say it helps a lot if you like what you are doing. A smile and a laugh simply make things fly by a lot easier.
Some years ago, we decided to get a new a dog after our old dog "Juvia" had passed away. Coming from a home where we always had dogs, it felt natural to pass this kind of experience on to my children. I'm a big believer that havening a dog teaches children about responsibility and general caring.
Now our old dog was a mix of some Lhasa Apso - in general, a very quiet dog. Walking a couple of times a day and then being able to go out in our small yard was sufficient for her. No problem.
Our new family member, "Togui" is a 100% Jack Rusell and here things are a bit different 🙂
For those of you who don't know the Jack Russel breed, I can tell you that as an owner you sometimes wonder what kind of rocket parts they are made of. Their energy level is extreme.
I should probably have done better research beforehand. Honestly, I was shocked. Our vet just confirmed my observations, "Yes, Jack Russells are very active", she said and smiled.
One tip she gave me was to activate his brain instead of trying to make him physically tired as in her opinion I would never succeed with that.
The activating brain tips absolutely worked. By placing his food in different locations and starting to teach him different tricks he seemed calmer, but he still needed to be physically exercised.
It all started with playing.
One day I had him with me in my CrossFit Box and I was throwing a ball during my warm-up which he would bring back fast. At a current point, I started to run after him to get the ball back - he, of course, started to try to escape me - the game was on.
After a minute or less, I was breathing very hard and I understood that the different movements I had done when chasing him were a perfect warm-up and both the dog and myself, and I have had fun too.
From that point, I started to come up with different games/exercises that would activate both me and my dog.
Before we go into the different ideas on how you can work out with your dog, it's important that you consider the following:
- Check with your vet if the planned activities are alright for your dog - you should also check with your doctor for yourself.
- Don't start out too hard. Pay attention to your dog and how it reacts to the exercises.
- Make sure the surroundings are safe and appropriate for the exercises you have selected.
How to work out with your dog
Ready to run - running harness & LED collar
For this type of activity, you need a harness. There are many different types and your pet supply store should be able to help you with the right one for you and your dog.
Instead of starting with running nonstop for a longer period, why not start with intervals so both you and your dog get used to the new way of exercising. One example that I started with was to run for 1 minute and then walk for 2 minutes.
Try to mix the interval periods but also the intensity. Sprinting for 30 seconds and then walking 1 minute is another option.
Just like you, your dog needs to get used to the new way of exercising, so start slowly. Another important thing is not to start running with your dog on a hard surface directly. Start with more soft surfaces like dirt trails.
Here are some running workout ideas:
- Walk for 5 minutes - run 1 minutes & walk 2 minutes, do it 5 times - walk 5 minutes. Progress by running for longer times and shortening the walking period.
- Walk for 5 minutes - run nonstop for 30 minutes - walk for 5 minutes. Progress by running for longer periods - but progress slowly and try to avoid runs longer than 1 hour.
- Walk for 5 minutes - Slow run for 5 minutes - 8 intervals of 30 seconds sprint and 30 seconds slow run - slow run for 5 minutes - 5 minutes’ walk.
Be sure to vary the type of running; don't always do interval running, but mix it with longer runs as well. Also, change the surface. Running in the sand at the beach or hill sprints will for sure make the running more challenging.
Chasing your dog
As mentioned earlier, this is how I got the idea for working out with my dog. Of course, your dog has to be up for this and want to play along. Normally a ball or any toy will make it easier for your dog, as it will try to protect it by escaping.
One thing to make sure is that you do this in safe surroundings.
- Simply move slowly so you can continue for 5-10 minutes - just continue to try to "catch" your dog. It’s important to pay attention to your dog, so make sure it’s still up for the game.
- Same as above, but use faster movements and do it in intervals. Chase for 30-60 seconds then pause for 30-60 seconds - do it 5-10 times. Be sure to start with some slow warm-ups.
Fetch the ball
This will be more demanding for you than your dog and you will probably have a hard time "winning" the game.
With your dog next to you-you simply throw the ball as far as possible - a throwing stick may be a good help - and then on your command you both sprint towards the ball to see who gets it first - I put my bet on your dog 🙂
As these will be short (but bursting) sprints it will be extremely hard for you, so this is not a beginner exercise.
- Throw the ball as far as possible and sprint together with your dog to get it - rest 1 minutes and continue for 10-12 rounds.
Progress by making the rest shorter or doing the sprints on sand or hills.
As with all the above games, it's important to pay attention to your dog's reaction. It should be a game and not go into a fight - as long as you pay attention to this, the tug-of-war game can be a great exercise for you and your dog. Another thing to pay attention to is that the toy shouldn’t harm your dog's teeth. It should be soft and easy to hold in its mouth.
Of course, this game will be less of a workout for you if you have a small dog.
- Work in intervals like 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds.
- Bend you legs - not your back.
'In order for this to work, your dog has to like water, don't try to force them into the water.
- Walk out until your dog is forced to start swimming and where the water reaches your hips. Now just walk along the beach where your dog is swimming and you are walking with the water as resistance. Keep a good eye on your dog and go up on the beach for rest when needed.
- If both you and your dog are good at swimming, you can go for longer swims along the beach. It might be a good idea to give your dog a lifejacket so it doesn't have to struggle too much.
A lifejacket might be a good idea for your dog.
Above are some of the workouts that I do with my dog and which I hope you will try out. There are of course several other ways you can be active with your dog but what I have concentrated on is ones where both you and your dog exercise while having fun.
Please don't forget the most important rule when doing any of the activities above: pay attention to how your dog reacts to the exercises. As we all know, our four-legged friends normally do anything to please us, so it's important that we pay attention to how they react.
Now go out and have some fun while you get fit!