Fitness with Fido
Exercise with your dog so you both get fit
San Diego is called America’s Finest City for obvious reasons; we have it all—sunshine, mild climate, miles of coastline and lots of outdoor activities to enjoy. And for the most part, whether we’re avid walkers, surfers, runners, hikers, paddlers or yoga practitioners, our dogs can participate in the ways we choose to stay fit too.
According to Healthy Pets (healthypets.mercola.com) with Dr. Karen Becker, “at minimum, your dog should be getting 20 minutes of intense—meaning it gets his heart pumping—exercise three times a week. And even low-energy dogs need daily play sessions to keep them stimulated.” So help your pup get off his dog bed!
It should be noted that just as you should consult a physician before starting any new exercise routine, you should do the same for Fifi with a visit to the vet. There are things you need to consider before you start breaking a sweat with your pup—breed, age and daily routine, to name just a few. Beyond that, I’ve put together a checklist of additional gear you’ll need to bring as well as some helpful tips.
Walking. Shih tzus, pugs, basset hounds, French bulldogs, and bullmastiffs are a few of the breeds that don’t do well with long distances; and therefore, don’t require long walks. On the other hand, if you have a vizsla, Rhodesian ridgeback, Australian cattle dog or other high-energy dog, he needs to go the distance. Long walks are the cat’s meow, if you know what I mean.
What you’ll need:
- Kibble treats
- Water and a way to dispense it. I like the Highwave AutoDogMug, $14.99, highwave.com, because it provides hydration with one hand. Squeeze the bottle, and the bowl on top fills with water.
- During the dog days of August, it’s important to make sure your pup doesn’t overheat. I use the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler, which offers some sun protection and also keeps Biscuit cool. Before we embark on our journey, I soak it in water, wring it out and put it on him. Available in six sizes, $59.95 each, ruffwear.com.
Running. Running on dirt and grass will be easier on your pet’s joints (as well as yours) and can save your dog’s paws from scorching. However, if you go for the softer option, you will have to keep on the alert for uneven surfaces and other hazards, such as sharp stones. If you choose hard pavement, run in the early morning or evening when the surface is cooler.
What you’ll need
- Bags, water and the cooling vest (see Walking for specifics)
- A reflective, hands-free leash with a place to stash bags and a water bottle that has an adjustable waist strap. Amazon has lots of options, including retractable bungee models.
Hiking. There are many dog-friendly hiking trails in San Diego, including Cowles Mountain, Cabrillo Tide Pools, Mission Trails Regional Park and Iron Mountain Trail.
What you’ll need
- Water-resistant, anti-slip dog shoes that protect paws from burrs, prickly plants, mud pools, thorns and hot pavement. My pick? My Busy Dog’s Secure dog boots, $35.99, mybusydog.com
- A portable water bottle for your dog. I’m a fan of the dog travel water bottle from Boshel, $11.99, boshel.com.
- A visibility vest so he’s easy to spot should he wander off the path or chase something into the brush. Canine Friendly makes a bright orange one, from $18, depending on size, rcpets.com.
- And the same cooling vest I mentioned for walking or running with your dog
Surfing or Paddleboarding. If you have a water-loving golden retriever, Portugese water dog, Newfoundland, Irish water spaniel, even an adventurous Jack Russell terrier or bulldog, there’s no reason you can’t have your four-legged friend join you on the board.
What you’ll need
- Lots of water since salt water can dehydrate your pooch. Don’t stay in the water for long periods at a time. Take lots of breaks.
- Sunscreen formulated specifically for pets. Try Epi-Pet Sun Protector skin treatment spray, $16, chewy.com.
- A canine life vest. I like either the Ruffwear Float Coat, $79.95, (ruffwear.com) or KONG AquaFloat, $25.50 (chewy.com).
Take a Lesson. If fitness with Fido is new to you—and him—start with a class. Leash Your Fitness (leashyourfitness.com) offers several classes you can do with your canine such as K9 Core & Conditioning; Butt, Gut & Strut with Your Mutt; and Dog Yoga ($25 per class). Sign up online. The SUP Connection (sandiegosuprentals.com) teaches you to successfully stand-up paddleboard with your pup during a one-hour private lesson (with you and up to six friends with dogs) for $55. Or work him out at home with CanineGym in a BOX from FitPAWS and Blue-9, which includes equipment to help your dog build core strength, improve joint health and more for $299.95, fitpawsusa.com