Whether you’re walking, running, or playing fetch with your four-legged friend, getting outside and breaking a sweat (or, in your dog’s case, a pant) is a great way to keep you both healthy and happy. “Dogs need exercise just as much exercise as people, if not more,” says Angi Aramburu, a group fitness instructor and founder of Go Fetch Run, a bootcamp for dogs and their owners. “If you can combine your dog’s exercise time with your own, you can save time and kill two birds with one stone.”
With fitness gear made just for pet-and-human workouts, getting fit with your dog has never been easier or more fun. We asked dog behavior and health experts for their favorite products, and tips on how to use them.
A short leash or waist leash
Want to start bringing your dog on runs? Aramburu recommends using a four- to six-foot lightweight nylon or leather leash. "Retractable or long, flexi leashes are not ideal because they can easily get tangled around legsthe person's and the dog's," she says. Once you've got it down, consider a hands-free leash that's worn around your waist.
Aramburu also suggests putting your dog in a martingale collar for running, exercising, or training. This type of collar is designed to sit loosely around a dog's neck, but to tighten when the dog tries to pull on the leash. It gives you more control over your pooch without choking him like a slip collar. "Never use a prong collar or choke chain during exercise," she warns.
Collapsible water dish
Just as you should sip water throughout your workout, so should your dog. "I've found that a lightweight, travel dog bowl is the easiest thing to run with," says Aramburu. "You can fill it up with your water bottle or, if you prefer not to carry one, a water fountain."
Convertible water bottle
If you don't want to carry a water bottle and a separate dish, go for a bottle that you and your dog can share (without sharing germs, of course). You can either buy a special bottle that comes with a removable plastic bowl, or buy an attachment for bottles you already have.
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Lights or reflectors
"Use reflective collars and vests on your dog when running at night for safety," says veterinarian Susan Nelson, clinical assistant professor at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Even better: clip an LED light to your dog's collar so you can spot him in the dark, even if he wanders off.
Having a few basic medical supplies stored in your car or medicine cabinet can be helpful if your dog gets hurt while you're out exercising. Stock yours with ointments, bandages, eyewash, and antihistamine, as well as important phone numbers and paperwork for your dog if you need to go to the vet.
Try: ASPCA Emergency Ready Deluxe Pet First Aid Kit ($40; amazon.com)
Dogs can overheat quickly in warm weather, especially in the middle of the day when the sun is overhead. Try to exercise in the morning or the evening, but if you do have to be out in the heat with your dog, consider getting her a cooling vest that reflects the sun and uses evaporation to help regulate temperature.
Car seat cover
If you drive to and from the park or the trail with your dog, you know that getting home after a particularly muddy romp can be disastrous for your car's upholstery. A cover or "hammock" in your back seat can keep it clean from dirt and dog hair, and provide a comfy place for your pooped pup to rest his head.
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"Be sure to to condition your dogâs feet slowly when running, so the pads can toughen up," says Nelson. "Iâve seen many pads severely torn or traumatized when dogs were taken out on gravel or concrete for a long run when they werenât used to it and pads were soft and tender."
If you want to take your dog on longer jaunts, or if you're concerned about rough terrain or ice, says Nelson, a set of booties for your dog's paws may be a good solution. (Disposable options are also available for protection against sidewalk salt in the winter.)
Try: Summit Trex ($60, amazon.com)
If your dog doesn't like bootiesor you don't want to put them on every time you go outside in harsh conditionstry a wax. When massaged into your dogs' paws, these products provide a barrier against ice, sand, salt, and hot pavement.
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Want to know what your dog's really seeing when you're out for a run or hike together? Mount a camera to her back or chest, using a specially designed harness, and have fun replaying your workouts from your dog's point of view.
Fitness tracker (for both of you!)
You count your own daily steps and log your workouts meticulously, but do you know how much exercise your dog's really getting? "For those who want to keep track of your dog's activity, consider getting a canine fitness tracker," says Nelson. Just as they help you reach daily goals and monitor progress, they can help you do the same for your pup.
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With the right pack, your dog can actually carry his own water and suppliesand some of your ownduring runs or long hikes, says Nelson. Be sure to choose one that fits snugly but not too tightly, and don't exceed the product's recommended weight limit.
Don't forget bags to clean up your dog's waste while you're out exercising. Buy biodegradable materials to reduce your impact on the environment, and get a dispenser that clips to your dog's leash to ensure you've always got one handy.
If swimming, boating, or stand-up paddleboarding is on your exercise agenda, there's a good chance your dog will be happy to join you. But don't just assume he'll be a good swimmer, says Nelson; every breed, and every dog, is different when it comes to the water. A doggie life jacketalong with careful supervisionis always a good idea.
Dog tether kit
Joining friends for pick-up soccer or frisbee match, but don't want your dog running onto the field? Set up a tether kit around a few nearby trees (or hook her leash to a handy containment stake) and let her run in her designated area without interrupting your game. These products are also great for setting up a temporary dog run while you're camping or on vacation.
Coat and raincoat
Dogs that run or spend time outside in very cold weather may appreciate a coat or sweater to keep them warm. "This can be important for short-coated dogs especially," says Nelson. If you're venturing out in the rain, a dog rain jacket can also help keep your pup dry and comfortable.
A toy for fetch
Tossing a frisbee or throwing a ball with your dog may not be much exercise for you, but you can change that: Every time your dog runs away from you, do squats, lunges, or pushups until he comes back. These products are guaranteed to go far, so you both get more active time between throws.
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During Aramburu's Go Fetch Run class in New York City parks, she sets up obstacles for both humans and dogs. "One of our favorites is the tunnel, which we've labeled the 'plank perfecter' because the only way for a human adult to get through is to have a perfect plank," she says. "We also use the jump, weave poles, tire jump, and an agility ladder to exercise both people and dogs."
Creating an entire obstacle course in your own back yard may not be in the cards, but you and your dog might enjoy a fun piece or two of agility equipment.
"If your dog needs refueling during a long run or workout, consider taking along high-energy snacks," says Nelson. Just be sure not to feed your dog a large meal during, or immediately before or after, intense exercise; running around on a full stomach can put dogs at risk of a dangerous condition called bloat.
Try: XTremFuel Booster Bars (xtremfuelusa.com for stores) or Zuke's Power Bone ($7, amazon.com)
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