Listen to Your Body—and Your Dog’s, Too
When you’re just starting out, be careful not to push yourself too hard. Everyone has his/her own pace, and your wellbeing takes top priority. According to Nelson, dogs that begin to lag behind, pant heavily, and drool are likely experiencing fatigue. Likewise, if your dog is limping, reluctant to move, or “whining and possibly biting” when you attempt to move him or her, they are probably experiencing significant pain. Make an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog’s fatigue or pain doesn’t resolve over the course of a few days.
Take frequent breaks, and “never force a dog to do an activity that they may be scared to do or physically unable to do,” Nelson warns. Morrison agrees. “Just take it slow,” she advises. “Dogs can pull ligaments just like we can, and they can get tired.” Stretching before and after exercise is key for humans, and if your pup is the Zen type, you can even try some Doga to cool down.
Starting an exercise plan isn’t easy, and there will be the occasional setback. But the value of a sharing a healthier lifestyle with your beloved pet is worth it. “Exercising with your dog strengthens your muscles and cardiovascular system,” Nelson says, “but it also strengthens the bond between you and your pet.”