Have you set any New Year’s resolutions this year? Especially after we've indulged over Christmas, it’s a common time for us to want to exercise more, eat better and generally get in shape. The good news is that you don’t have to splash out on a pricey personal trainer – your dog could be the perfect training partner!
The trick to reaching your fitness goals is to make it fun, and who loves running around more than dogs? Getting out more and exercising with your dog is good for both of you, and it’s a great way to bond with your pup.
This January, Dogrobes and PitPat have teamed up to help dogs and their humans reach their fitness goals. We've got a bundle of goodies for someone to win to kickstart their 2024. Read on to find out how to make your dog walks more interesting for both of you, and some other fun activities you could do with your dog, as well as how to enter this exciting competition.
How much exercise does your dog need?
We’re often told to try and get 10,000 steps a day, while the NHS advises either 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. But what about your dog?
According to the experts at PitPat, dogs should aim for a certain number of minutes of exercise per day rather than a number of steps. But the range of time they should aim for varies greatly from one dog to the next. The same goes for how much food they should eat each day.
“All dogs are different, so there's no 'one-size-fits-all' when it comes to their needs. When thinking about how much exercise your dog needs, and how much food they need to eat, you'll need to consider their age, breed, and general health.” – Hannah Juggins, PitPat
When you use a PitPat Activity Monitor along with their free app, you get tailored advice and recommendations to help you give your dog what they need. Tell the PitPat app everything it needs to know about your dog, such as their breed, age and weight, and it will tell you in more detail how much exercise and how much food they need each day.
How to make walking your dog more fun
If you’re starting to get bored of the same old dog walks around your neighbourhood or local park, let’s look at some ideas on how to make those daily dog walks more fun for both of you.
Introduce toys and games
Especially if your dog is toy-motivated, bringing along a toy and playing games on your walks will help keep your dog engaged and let you have fun with them. Bring a ball or one of their favourite toys and have a game of fetch on your walk, hide it nearby for them to sniff out, or just let them carry the toy with them.
And there are plenty of games you can try without toys if your dog isn’t toy-motivated (or if you’re worried about it getting lost on the way). Try changing up the pace of your walk by giving them commands to stop, walk and run at random. As a bonus, this will help to train your dog’s response to commands, and you can get some extra exercise by running alongside them (which we bet your dog will love too!).
Go on adventures together
If your dog doesn’t mind travelling in the car, then get out of your local area and go on an adventure together! Take them to an exciting new park with lots of space to explore, hike up hills together and enjoy the views at the top, or find out which National Trust sites are dog-friendly and discover more of what the UK has to offer, together.
Treat yourself to a weekend away occasionally and find some dog-friendly accommodation. You could explore national parks and other amazing areas together, like the Scottish Highlands, Lake District, Peak District, Cotswolds, and lots more around the UK, depending on where you’re located.
Let your dog lead the walk
Does your dog ever try and pull you in a certain direction when they’re somewhere they recognise? Every now and again on walks, and if you’re in a safe area to do so, throw away the walking route and let your dog decide where you go. Hold the lead lightly, if they’re on-lead, and don’t influence which direction they walk in with your movements or body language. Just let their nose guide them and see where they take you.
Make a doggy play date
If your dog plays well with others, why not arrange to meet up with a friend, family member or neighbour on a walk with their dog? This gives you both a chance to socialise, and your dogs can let off some steam playing and running around together. Or if your friends and family are busy, you could offer to walk their dog for them and let your dogs play together.
Other fun types of exercise to try with your dog
If you want to give your dog more exercise, you’re not restricted to just adding an extra walk or a longer walk to your day. There are lots of great, fun ways to exercise with your dog.
If your dog likes to swim, choose walking routes that include a river, lake or sea where they’re allowed to swim and where it’s safe to do so. You could even find a dog-friendly swimming pool and take a swim with them, or join them for a dip in the sea if it’s warm enough. Swimming is also an activity that’s gentle on their joints (and yours!) if you have an older dog or one with mobility issues. Luckily, the PitPat Activity Monitor is also waterproof, so it can continue to track your dog’s activity while they swim (even in the sea).
Whether you take your dog to an agility class, find a dog park with obstacles, or just set up a few obstacles in your back garden, agility can be a fun way to exercise and bond with your dog, as well as helping train their obedience and response to commands. It’s a great activity for all breeds, and they don’t have to be Crufts-level to have fun and learn something new. You typically run the course alongside your dog, so you’ll be getting good exercise, too.
You’ve probably seen the many Collies zooming back and forth at Crufts flyball races. This exciting, fast-paced sport is particularly great for energetic and athletic dogs, but dogs of all breeds and abilities can try it. Flyball is like a relay race for dogs with tennis balls instead of batons – what could be better?! You can check out the British Flyball Association to find out more and to get involved in your area.
CaniSports include CaniCross, CaniBike and CaniScoot, during which you can go cross country running, mountain biking and, that’s right, even scooting with your dog! Your dog is attached to you by a harness and bungee lead, meaning they’ll give you a little pull forward (but not over!) to help give you a boost. So it doesn’t matter if your dog is fitter and faster than you.
It’s great exercise and a lot of fun for you both, allowing you to enjoy exciting off-road adventures together. Check out CaniCross trailrunners to find out more. And after all that off-road running, a pair of Gauntlets will be perfect for wiping the mud from your dog’s paws, legs and the rest of their body.
Dog dancing routines
Looking for something a little less high octane? Why not try learning a dance routine with your dog? You’ve probably seen dogs dancing with their owners at Crufts and even on Britain’s Got Talent. Crufts holds heelwork to music and freestyle competitions, and you see dogs of all breeds taking part. You can start with commands like teaching them to walk through your legs, spin in a circle, and to stay at your heel as you move around. Learn more and more moves and you can turn these into a routine to music.
Reaching weight loss (or gain) goals with PitPat
Whether you want to trim the fat or pack on some muscle, exercising with your dog is a great motivation to keep working towards your goals. And if your dog is under or overweight, PitPat can help, too. Just like with their activity and food, the PitPat app will give you guidance on what weight range your dog should be in.
Monitoring your dog’s weight along with their activity levels and food intake will help to keep them healthy and in good shape.
“When it comes to their weight, you'll want to make sure they're weighed regularly - either on your scales at home or at the vets. Then, log it in the PitPat app and you can keep track of your dog's progress, and quickly spot any changes in their weight.” – Hannah Juggins, PitPat
PitPat makes it easy to track everything relating to your dog’s health and weight, making it easier to help them reach their weight loss or gain goals.
Cooling down after exercising with your dog
After you’ve exercised, you probably know it’s advisable to cool down by doing some lighter exercise (like walking after a run) and stretching your muscles to help prevent soreness, tightness and injury. Well, the same goes for your dog!
A dog cool down helps their heart rate and breathing slow down gradually, and cools their muscles down gradually as well. If your dog has been running, just slow them down towards the end of the exercise, gradually slowing them down to a walk. You can then walk them for a few minutes until you start to notice them panting less heavily, or stopping panting altogether.
This also allows your dog’s body temperature to cool down gradually rather than dropping in temperature too suddenly, which can be bad for their muscles and can cause cramps. This is especially important if you’re exercising outside on a cold day. While you don’t want to risk your dog overheating on warmer days, putting their Dogrobe on after exercising on colder days can help to prevent their muscles cooling off too quickly.
You can even help your dog with some stretches to help prevent muscle soreness and the risk of injury. Depending on how cooperative your dog is, you may be able to guide them into stretching positions yourself, or you may need to use a treat to do so. AKC Pet Insurance shares some basic stretches you could try in their blog.
Tackling 2024 with Dogrobes and PitPat
So, are you feeling ready to take on 2024 and smash fitness goals for both you and your dog? Together with PitPat, we’re giving away a complete bundle with everything you need to reach your goals – a complete Dogrobes kit (Dogrobe, Snood and Gauntlets) plus a PitPat Activity Monitor Bundle, including:
- A PitPat Dog Activity Monitor to keep them fit and healthy
- A bag of delicious and nutritious PitPat Adult food
- The PitPat Weighing Bowl to make it easy to weigh the correct portion
- Two bags of healthy treats for training
Check out our Facebook to enter this giveaway. And good luck with your goals for 2024!