Looking for a built-in workout buddy?

It’s hard to write a better summary of why you shouldn’t overlook your dog as your work-out buddy, so I won’t.  Instead I’ll let this article from the AAHA PetsMatter Newsletter speak for me 🙂

Looking for a built-in workout buddy?

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January is National Walk Your Dog Month

I know we are half way through the month, but it’s not too late to start 🙂

This article includes ten reasons why walking your dog is beneficial.  Remember some of these benefits translate to us.

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Fall Fido Fitness Facts

pictures_of_dogs_playing_in_leaves_24Autumn can be a wonderful time to get outside with your dog. The air is crisp and cool, the leaves put on a spectacular show for your enjoyment, and your dog’s enjoyment as they bound around in them. With each season comes different precautions, so be sure to follow these easy tips to make the best out of this wonderful season.

  • Ease into high activity
    If the hot summer weather had you avoiding regular walks and exercise with your pet, autumn can be the perfect time to get outside. However, due to all that lounging by the pool (or A/C unit) your dog might need some time to get those muscles back up to speed. If that’s the case, start slow and work your way up to those epic 10 mile hikes in the mountains or around town.
  • Edible Hazards
    Autumn’s cooler weather is an ideal time for mushrooms to grow. Even though virtually all mushrooms are safe for consumption, there’s still that 1% that are toxic and must be avoided. Be on the watch for mushrooms, and be sure to keep them out of your dog’s mouth. If your dog still manages to snag a mouth full of mushrooms, contact your veterinarian or local emergency veterinary office for instructions.
  • Dress up

    Make sure your dog is dressed for the weather – this may seem like common sense, but it still needs to be said. Many small or short-haired dogs, especially those with single coats, can’t retain enough heat in cool weather. If you think you’ll need a sweater yourself, consider that your four legged friend might need one too.
  • It’s dark out – be seen

    The days are getting shorter and shorter – soon you’ll be walking your dog in the dark. Make sure both you and your dog are visible. There are loads of options available, including reflective collars, leashes and harnesses, and flashlights or light-up products. This means you have permission for some retail therapy.
  • Watch out for attractive dangers!
    ‘Tis the season for all of those tasty poisons. Car owners are changing antifreeze in their vehicles, which is highly toxic, so avoid spills you see in parking lots and driveways. Rodents are looking for warm places to spend the winter, so many home-owners are putting out rodenticides to repel them. Ingestion of those poisons can be fatal, so if your dog comes in contact with these, or any similar dangers, be sure to contact your veterinarian or local emergency clinic immediately.
  • Holiday Hazards
    Weather we like it or not, fall is the start of the holiday season. That means more sweets around and more decorations adorning houses, both inside and out. All of which your pet may have greater access to. To avoid a trip to the vet for a costly surgery or hospitalization, make sure those treats and the decorations stay away from those wandering noses and curious pets.

Despite a few risks, autumn can be a beautiful and invigorating time to get outside with your dog, so follow these tips and make the most out of the season – before the really cold weather hits!

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See Pet Poison Helpline’s website for a list of possible foods and plants that are toxic to pets.

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Leash On Challenge

leash on challenge

Want another reason to exercise with your dog, besides the health and mind benefits?  How about prizes!!!

The fitness app Map My Fitness, which includes Map My Run/Bike/Walk/Hike, has partnered with Purina Pro Plan from September 30 to November 1, offering the Leash On Challenge.  Rules are pretty simple:

  1. Download the free app (if you don’t already have it).
  2. Join the Challenge (it’s free to join).
  3. Start walking.
  4. Cross your fingers for daily prizes or prizes for completing the challenge.

To complete the challenge, all you need to do is walk for 15 minutes or more for 30 consecutive days.  Easy peasy right?!

To sign up for the challenge, sign up here.

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The ‘Fun Run’

ImageAlthough I’ve only been running races for a couple years, I was reminded this holiday weekend it’s not always about what place you come in or making a new PR (personal record).  If you forget about the competition, racing events are fun!

Petey and I participated in Windsor’s 4th of July 4-Legged Run/Walk over the weekend.  Last year, our first year competing as a pair, we placed 2nd, just barely missing out on the first place medal.  However, as we stepped up to the starting line this year, it was going to be a bit different.  Petey had been recovering from an injury and was about 90% normal.  Not wanting to have him take a step back in his recovery, we were going to take this race easy.  Instead of racing, it was going to be, as in the title of the event, a ‘fun run’ for us.

As we stood behind the starting line with the rest of the participants, the excitement was palpable.  The participants were doing their final warmups, trying to keep their muscles loose.  Introductions and ‘good luck’ were being past on.  The dogs were sniffing around, tail wagging, making their own introductions and words of encouragement, and looking back up to their owners knowing something fun was about to happen.   

Then as the starting song started, all that built up excitement was released, and the craziness began.  People jockeying for position.  Dogs barking and jumping, pulling their owners.  There were a couple kids laughing, doing all they could not to be dragged to the ground by their exited dogs.  As the thrills ensued, Petey and I hung back a little watching, smiling and laughing.  Luckily and surprisingly no one took a spill.

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The Starting Excitement – Video Link

The pack eventually spread out as everyone was finding their pace.  It took a lot of effort on my part to persuade Petey to take it easy.  That he didn’t have to catch up and pass everyone.  Eventually he realized he didn’t have to race and we too found a comfortable pace.  We were now free to look around, take in the beautiful morning by the lake, have a couple conversations with our fellow runners, and offer words of encouragement to some of the youngsters racing.  Petey also found that at this pace he was free to take a couple pit stops, ‘read’ some of the sign posts, and pass on the ‘word’, “Petey was here.”

Petey still had some gas in the tank at the end of the run, so we picked up the pace a little and finished strong.  Both of us crossing the finish line with smiles on our faces.

 This years event was less attended than last year, but it was still great fun to meet some new people and to see people and their pets dressed up in celebration of the 4th.  It was also awesome to see some familiar pets and families outside of the veterinary hospital and to have fun with all of them.

ImageIf you haven’t participated in an event like this, why not?  The excitement, camaraderie, family atmosphere (including pets) makes exercising with others a blast.

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Exercise Funny

Exercise Funny

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Hiking with your pooch – trail tips

Dr. Brent Morris and PeteyI love hiking with my dog Petey.  He is the best hiking partner I could have.  He’s always up for a hike, no matter the distance or the weather.  A lot of times he’s the reason I go out in non-perfect weather or when I’m a little tired.  After we hit the trail, his great attitude infects me and keeps me going with a big smile on my face.  I find it hard to have a bad time on the trail when the one your with is soooo happy just to be out there.

To make sure we have a great time and anyone we meet has the same, we follow some basic trail etiquette:

Regulations check  Each hiking area has unique rules.  Check before you go so you are not disappointed.  As a broad generalization, in most city, county, and state parks, along with national forests, dogs are allowed either on leash or under voice control.  In most national parks, dogs are allowed on the roads and in campsites, but not on the trails.  There are other places dogs are usually not allowed, such as open spaces and natural areas.

logo-sgaretrail-signjpg-f7bea167104b029f_largeRight-of-way  Keep your eyes and ears open for approaching hikers, runners, bikers, and horses –  from the front and from behind.  Don’t worry about who has the right-of-way, just be courteous of the approachers and move to the side of the trail.  This is a perfect time to practice your dog’s sit, stay, and ‘leave-it’ command as you allow them to pass.

Pay attention to tight corners and behind you to prevent startling others or yourself.

If horses are on the trail, give them a little more room than you would a fellow hiker.  Increase the distance the more excitable your dog is.  Keeping a further distance is safer for you, your dog, the horse and the rider.

Clean up  Try to keep the trails beautiful and fresh smelling, by picking up after your pet.  The good thing is that your pet will likely need to drop a mine in the first 1/8 mile – which means when you pack it out, you won’t have to go very far.  Although most trailheads have pickup bags, try to remember to keep a couple extra in your car, pack, or tied to your leash.

Additional Tips

If you are just starting to work on behavour training and don’t want to overwelm your dog with too many distractions and/or want to work on off leash training:

Get out early or late in the day.  Not only are you more likely to see wildlife, but there will be less people at these times.

Offseason hiking.  Less people are out in early spring and late fall.

Find a place that is underutilized.  This may mean traveling a little further, but the solitude is often worth it.

Off trial hiking.  Most national forest are great for this.  Of course you need to be prepared with maps, compass, GPS, etc.

Don’t forget to say “hi” to everyone you pass!  You’ll never know where a positive salutation may lead.

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