Typically, in mid to late February, resolutions that were made for the coming year start to fall by the wayside. You can probably guess what the number one New Years’ resolution is…getting in shape. The good news is it’s easy to get back on the wagon, just adopt a dog.
Researchers in Great Britain recently 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 around 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 will 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, Orange County, and in northern California. 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 the following 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 hike with your dog on your right side, so that you are between your dog and other people
• 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 when he strays, then you might want to consider keeping him on a leash.
• If you want your dog to carry his own supplies (treats, poop bags, etc.) just remember that experts recommend that a dog should only carry 25 percent of his body weight; anything above that is too heavy.
• 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 on a hike or to the beach; cats love to chase fishing pole toys. Rather than sit 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. The same company also makes a feather toy for those cats who prefer to chase birds instead of mice, Go-Cat-Bird-Feather-Teaser
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 www.petfinder.com to find a homeless animal shelter in your area.
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Chico is a three-year-old, neutered male Chihuahua mix who weighs10 lbs. He is playful with other dogs and affectionate with humans. Chico would easily fit into an adult household. DAWG (Dog Adoption and Welfare Group) is a no-kill not for profit dog rescue/adoption organization located at 5480 Overpass Rd. in Goleta. For more information, call 681-0561.
You can view more adoptable dogs at www.sbdawg.com. The public is invited to stop by and look around every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. DAWG relies on volunteers to take care of all the dogs, so if you love dogs, think about volunteering. Students are able to fulfill their volunteer community service requirement by volunteering. Volunteer orientations are generally held every other Saturday at 10 a.m. Please contact DAWG for the next meeting.