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The Best Ways To Get Active With Your Dog

hiker with dog at top of mountain

There are now over 12 million dogs in the UK, and a 2021 Statista report showed that dogs are the most commonly owned household pet.

With lockdown spiking a rise in dog ownership many of these canine companions have gotten all too used to their owners working from home, meaning a return to office has seen increasingly noticeable levels of anxiety amongst pets, as a result of feeling under-stimulated or attachment issues. 

Throughout Covid-19, the UK has witnessed a fitness frenzy, with running app registrations up by as high as 667% and many of us taking up new active hobbies.

The benefits that keeping fit and active can have on our physical and mental wellbeing are clear and it’s equally important to keep dogs active to aid their physical and mental health.

Heritage dog food brand Skinner’s knows this and has launched a new dog food range Get Out & Go! to encourage dog owners and their dogs to get outdoors and stay active with a diet to support every adventure.

The range is unique in that the differing foods have been formulated to support different levels of activity and can be easily switched between, a bit like human food.

Studies have found that dog owners are around four times more likely to meet physical activity levels, as they motivate us to get outside and exercise and boosts endorphins for both parties, all whilst reaping the benefits of fresh air, vitamin D, and a strengthened bond between you and your canine companion. 

The team at Skinner’s have put together a comprehensive guide on how to Get Out and Go! with your dog. 

  1. Running

Benefits of running include building strong bones, strengthening muscles and improving cardiovascular fitness, things advantageous to both dogs and their owners.

A recent survey by Skinner’s and Parkrun found that dog owners like to get active with their dogs. In addition to regular walks, 70% regularly partake in a run or long jog with their dog and 25% already take their dogs to Parkrun events.

Skinner’s are the official dog food sponsor of Parkrun and have also teamed up with DogFitUK leaders in the Canicross space, to encourage owners to take their dog along for exercise together, with the mental benefits of running alongside your four-legged friend and a strengthened bond between the two of you making Parkrunning/Canicross much more rewarding. 

If looking to take your canine companion to Parkrun be sure to read the rules on where you can participate with dogs and what leads you can walk, jog or run with. 

Ginetta George co-founder of DogFit said: “DogFit have introduced thousands of people to the wonderful sport of Canicross, learning how to get out have fun and get fit with their dogs, in a fun, safe and social way. 

Canicross is the fast-growing, hand-free running trend that sees you and your dog take to the trials, bonded together by a lightweight Canicross harness to keep each other’s pace.

Not only is it the most fun way for you and your dog to get fit, but it’s also the safest way to enjoy running with your dog.

Canicross originated in Europe as invaluable training for the dog sledding community during off-season months and follows the trends of skijoring (where people ski with their dog pulling them in front, and Bikejoring, the same but cycling).

Plus, with Canicross you’ll likely find yourself seeking out off-track dog-friendly routes, meaning you’ll challenge yourself with new terrain and less pavement pounding. 

  1. Agility

Agility courses are a great way to train your dog, involving running through courses, jumping over obstacles and weaving in and out of cones.

But who said agility courses had to just be for dogs? You can turn this style of training into a circuits-style workout, incorporating things such as sprints and different kinds of jumps like squat jumps or burpees as your dog makes their way around the course, leaving both you and your dog feeling extra fit in no time.

  1. Walking

Never doubt the humble walk as a great form of exercise. Definitely the most common form of exercise for dogs, but often overlooked as an effective workout when it comes to people, walking increases cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness, whilst improving conditions such as high cholesterol, hypertension and joint pain, all at the same time as providing your dog with a chance for behavioural training, mental stimulation, socialization and of course physical exercise.

  1. Frisbee/ Ball games

Frisbee and other simple ball games are another way to intertwine exercise and dog-time.

Frisbee, for example, will allow your dog to get a good stint of running in whilst they fetch it, and whilst you wait for them to bring it back you can task yourself with exercises like press-ups, burpees and star jumps.

The same premise applies for other basic ball games, whether that be kicking a ball for your dog to catch and completing circuits as you wait for them to return, or running to meet your dog after they’ve gone to fetch the ball.

  1. Yoga 

As a lower intensity form of exercise, Yoga (or Dog-a) is something that both you and your dog can get involved in.

Whether that be through training your dog to mimic certain positions like downward dog, or taking them to a proper Doga class (which there are surprisingly plenty of throughout the UK and beyond), this is a great way to simultaneously mentally stimulate and wind down with your dog.

It is of course always important to make sure your dog is fueled properly whilst living an active lifestyle. Zoe Russell, Nutrition Officer for Skinner’s: “For dogs who are regularly working at a high energy output, a more nutrient-dense working dog food can be beneficial.

These foods can provide a good source of dietary fat for longer periods of activity, a source of protein to support muscle integrity and a source of carbohydrates for short periods of intense activity, as well as key vitamins and minerals to ensure the diet is balanced.”

For advice and further information on how to fuel working dogs, head to https://www.skinners.co.uk.

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