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Getting Fit With Your Pet


New Year’s Day means New Year’s resolution time. Nearly one-third of people who make resolutions for the New Year state that getting in shape is their top priority, according to WebMD. Joining a gym should help this resolution succeed, but studies show that nearly 60 percent of people let new gym memberships deplete their bank accountants without reaping the benefits. If you’re interested in getting in shape in 2016, forget joining a gym. Adopt a dog instead.

Lisa Acho Remorenko

Researchers in Great Britain surveyed 5,000 people and found that those with dogs exercised up to six hours more per week than those who worked out at a gym or on their own. The study found that the average dog owner walks his or her dog for an average of 30 minutes twice a day. Compare that to the average gym-goer, who only works out two hours per week. The difference can be attributed to the fact that 86 percent of dog owners say they enjoy the time with their pets, versus 16 percent of respondents who rate going to the gym as a favorable activity.

Walking your dog twice a day is a great way to stay in shape. However there are lots of other ways to stay in shape with your pet. Boot camps are the new exercise craze and it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a dog boot camp to stay in shape with your pet.

Thank Dog Boot Camp did just that. This program combines weight training, cardiovascular training and dog training all in a one-hour session. Prior to the first session of boot camp, trainers conduct a health evaluation and behavior consultation on your dog as well as a one-on-one obedience lesson. Classes are currently being offered in Los Angeles County and Orange County. For more information, visit: ThankDogBootCamp.com.

If you don’t have a dog boot camp in your area, try taking your dog on a hike. Here is a great website to find hiking trails where dogs are allowed: hikewithyourdog.com. Dogs love to venture outside of their normal routine, but when you’re on the trail, keep your dog’s comfort and safety in mind with these tips:

  • Choose a hike that matches both you and your dog’s fitness level. Keep hikes short and simple at first. Work up gradually, as both of you become more accustomed to the activity.

  • Avoid hiking on hot and humid days. Dogs overheat faster than humans do and are more prone to heat stress.

  • Let your dog rest when he needs to. If he starts panting excessively and is seeking out shade, this might mean that he needs a break.

  • Make sure you bring plenty of water for yourself and your dog to drink. It’s a good idea to carry a portable water bowl for your dog to prevent him from drinking from ponds and streams.

  • Keep in mind that not everyone likes dogs, so keep your dog under control as you hike.

  • Always pick up after your dog, even when on a hiking trail.

  • Don’t allow your dog to chase wildlife. If he doesn’t respond immediately to your call if he strays, then you might want to consider keeping him on a leash.

  • After you get home, check your dog for burrs, foxtails, ticks or scrapes. Keep in mind that if your dog wandered into poison ivy, it may not affect him, but the oils can be transferred off his coat onto your skin. Make sure to wear gloves if you’re going to bathe him.

If you happen to be a cat owner, it’s no excuse to be a couch potato. While you may not be able to take your cat to boot camp or on a hike, you can still play with your cat. Cats love to chase fishing pole toys. Rather than sit on the couch and swing the toy around, run around your house with it. The cat catcher by go-cat is one of the best cat toys around, and it only costs $7. Go-Cat Catcher.

Whether you own a dog or a cat, there’s no better time to get in shape with your pet then right now. If you don’t own a pet, now is a great time to adopt one. Visit petfinder.com to find a homeless animal shelter in your area.



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