Using your dog as a workout partner is often described as a great way to get in shape. For best results, make sure that both of you are healthy enough for exercise before starting an intensive weight loss program.
Make Sure You're healthy Enough for Exercise
One of the most important first steps that you must take if you are considering starting a weight loss exercise program with your dog is to make sure that both of you are healthy enough for exercise. Visit your doctor, and have a complete physical done, being sure to discuss your exercise plans frankly and openly with your physician. Similarly, schedule an appointment with your dog's vet. Tell the vet that you are interested in including your dog as your workout partner. While this typically is not a problem, some older dogs that suffer from arthritis should avoid excessive running in an attempt to prevent the aggravation of the condition.
For best results when including your dog in your weight loss exercise program, be sure to start slowly. This is important for both you and the dog. Start by taking your dog on a relatively easy, 20 minute walk. Feel free to stop as many times as you need to over the course of the 20 minutes to take a break. After your exercise session, evaluate how you feel. Do you think you could have gone longer or faster, or was the workout a challenge? If you easily mastered the 20 minute walk, consider adding another two or three minutes on your next session. However, be careful to avoid increasing the intensity of your exercise program to quickly. Research has found that for best results, add only 10 percent to the total time of your exercise session each week.
Bring Plenty of Water
Bring plenty of water along during your exercise session for both you and your workout partner. While most parks typically provide drinking fountains, there is not always a readily available spot for dogs to drink. Remember that even though you may not have sweated a great deal, you still lost fluid during your walk. Weigh yourself after each exercise session. For each pound of weight loss, drink at least eight ounces of water.
Track Your Progress
Finally, track the progress of both you and your dog in order to see how your routine is working. Weigh yourself and your dog before the start of the exercise program, and then once a week every week thereafter. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian regarding your dog's weight on an ongoing basis. If your dog's weight starts to get too low, your veterinarian may suggest providing him with more food in order to negate any significant calorie deficiencies.