Dog owners know that while there's nothing that compares to the companionship of man's best friend, taking on the responsibility of caring for a canine comes along with a handful of responsibilities.
From taking care of your furry friend's medical needs to providing food, shelter and of course, love (that's the easy, part right?), choosing to take on the role of master means you must maintain your dog's health, which includes ensuring that Fido stays fit with plenty of activity and exercise.
But even for the busiest of dog owners, this is good news, because to a certain extent keeping your four-pawed friend fit means keeping yourself in shape, too. A good deal of research points to the fact that pet owners tend to lead healthier lives overall.
A short daily walk, a few minutes playing fetch in the backyard or a run in the park easily adds to your daily activity levels, which is beneficial for both you and your pup. But whether you're aiming to kick start a new exercise habit, add some excitement and spice to your already existing routine or simply switch up your pup's workout schedule, there are plenty of alternative exercises that both you and your dog can do together.
In fact, Tricia Montgomery founded K9 Fit Club, the first ever fitness facility that caters to both humans and dogs, for exactly this reason. At 265 pounds she was searching for a way to help ignite her motivation to lose weight and adopt a healthier way of life.
"Everyone needs encouragement," said Montgomery. "All too often in the race of time or other things, we're so lost in doing things in our day to day schedules but we really don't take time out for ourselves or sometimes other people. But your dog is going to be the best workout partner you'll ever have, he'll never cancel on you or not want to be with you, and that's something that is motivational for both of you."
Courtesy of K9 Fit Club.
Montgomery says that when she was overweight she was teased and named called, and that by founding K9 Fit Club she's aiming not only to redefine what exercise and fitness means to many people, but to also help those who are overweight or struggling with weight loss improve their body image and confidence levels.
"If there is something I can do to change one person's life," said Montgomery, "and if I can teach one person to work out and learn about nutrition and to look at themselves differently and feel more confident about themselves through their dog, then I have done my job."
Montgomery explained that she worked with all types of professionals from veterinarians to personal trainers to develop the program, and that there are classes that cater for all levels of fitness.
"Our classes go anywhere from beginner to Intro to Bow Wow Boot Camp, we have a number of different programs," said Montgomery. "And if you look at the bell curve of fitness, what happens is a lot of places just hit that one area for people who are fit, but K9 Fit Club caters to everyone who has a dog."
She also mentioned that the club just recently launched a certification program for those interested in becoming trained and certified to lead their own K9 Fit Club exercise classes.
"We are teaching basic K9 Fit Club for anybody who wants to be certified," she said. "We're giving them a basic class so they can do this on their own. We're providing job opportunities because we have alliances with major partners and programs and organizations that are looking for K9 fit Club certified trainers."
But for those who are interested in adding a bit of excitement to their workout routine and letting Fido in on the fun, Montgomery explained a few of the exercises you might find in a typical K9 Fit Club class.
Continue reading to learn about them below.
- 6 Ways You Can Work Out With Your Dog-
1. High Paw Knees: "Keep your dog directly to your left hand side," said Montgomery. "Raise your left knee up, and then your right knee up. So you're just raising your knees up and down. And if you want to increase the intensity level you can take it to what we call a high rep, so it's a hop hop, hop hop."
Montgomery explained that your left hand side controls every movement unless the dog is moving in front of you. "When you're working out with a dog and he's right beside you, not only are you working out on a fitness standpoint, but also on an emotional standpoint and a mental standpoint," she said. "As your confidence is increasing and you're feeling better about yourself, your dog can feel that and thinks, 'Wow my master is more confident and she can control me more.' So not only does it work on the physical aspect, but also on the mental and the obedience side of it, too."
2. Pups Pushing Peeps: Montgomery explains, "You would have your dog directly in front of you and go into a crab walk, so that the dog is right in front of you and you're giving them a pat, pat, pat as you're crab walking backwards.”
3. Puppy Plank: “Your dog is in a plank pose right beside you, and so he's working his canine core muscles, the same as you're doing," said Montgomery. "So again, you're integrating this muscle movement for both you and your dog."
4. Wall Sit: "You can go against a wall, put your back against the wall in a seated position and put your hands straight out and bring your dog up onto your knees and then bring your dog up into a obedient stance— up up, down down," Montgomery said.
Courtesy of K9 Fit Club.
5. Squats: "You go into a squat pose with your dog in front of you and he's on your level," said Montgomery. "Then squat and hop back and forth all the way across the room, or you can go more gently, it depends on the person and their activity level, but your dog is right in front of you at that same time."
6. Lunges: In the same manner of the high paw knees exercise, keep your dog on your left hand side as you perform sets of alternating forward or reverse lunges.