Christmas is a time for peace, joy, goodwill and, not to mention, ripping open the selection box before you’ve even changed out of your pyjamas on the big day itself. The feasting usually starts early and often continues at a heady pace.
And the result? You may feel the need to watch your waistline – and fast! But what if you’d rather get out in the fresh air than hit the gym? The answer could well be staring you in the face – possibly with brown, sad eyes and a slobbery lead in its mouth.
Exercising with your dog could get you out of a fitness rut, and reduce the chances of your pet from becoming overweight or suffering from diseases such as arthritis and diabetes. According to the PDSA, over a third of dogs (2.9million) in the UK are overweight or obese, giving them a much lower life expectancy than healthy animals.
Before you and your furry friend embark on a new fitness regime, check whether your pet insurance policy might be able to assist with vet bills if your dog were to pick up an injury.
Here are some top dog fitness activities to get you both feeling the burn:
According to the Kennel Club, every owner has a duty of care to walk their dog at least once a day, rain or shine. A daily walk can provide basic mental stimulation for your dog and has enormous health benefits for owners too, with health professionals claiming lower blood pressure, strengthened muscles together with a cardiovascular workout.
Taking part in a dog agility class could see you racing with your dog over an obstacle course against the clock. This can be great fun for both of you; owners run alongside their animals as they weave, duck and jump. It’s also a great way to train your dog and reinforce your relationship, as he or she listens to you and follows your commands.
Great for dogs who like to chase things, flyball is a fast, competitive sport for both dogs and their owners. Working in relay teams, your dog must jump over four hurdles to reach a box that releases a tennis ball when he steps on the spring-loaded pad. He then has to race back over the hurdles and give it to you at the finish line.
A great calorie burner, it’s open to all dogs – big and small. If you and your dog make a good team, why not enter Crufts. The British Flyball Association can give you a list of teams and training venues in your area.
4. Heelwork to music
Otherwise known as dog dancing, this involves putting obedience moves together to a piece of music. Physically, it can be quite demanding. It’s great for bonding and requires no equipment except for some doggy treats to keep the dancing doggy interested.
This guest post was written on behalf of Money Matters, the Sainsbury’s Bank blog. The views expressed in this guest post are of the author and not of Sainsbury’s Bank. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury’s Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.
Ryan O'Meara is group editor at Total Pet Publishing. A former professional dog trainer, Ryan is a frequent commentator in the media on a wide variety of canine issues including dog attacks, animal welfare and dog behaviour.