I’m always talking about the benefits of exercising with your dog. We love to hike, and even occasionally run with our dogs (yes, believe it or not, Dachshunds can go running), but walking is the easiest, best way for you and your pooch to get exercise together.
I think that any basic exercise plan has to start with walking. If you and/or your pooch are out of shape or a few pounds too heavy, walking is the best way to ease into a more intense exercise program. For example, I don’t suggest hitting the trails with your dog until you have a steady walking routine down.
If you are just starting an exercise program, regular walk should be your aim. If you aren’t used to physical activity, start out with small walks around your neighborhood . After you can walk about an hour 4 days a week with ease then you can start adding longer, faster-paced walks or hikes.
Counting Calories Can Motivate
For me, things like getting a new piece of workout clothing or gear can kick start my motivation. Sometimes, it also helps me to know how many calories I’m burning during an activity. I know, a fitness watch will do that for you. But some people just want a ball-park estimate and don’t want to be tied to a piece of technology while out enjoying the fresh air. Part of the reason we walk is to clear our minds and get away from all of that stuff, right?
If you want to get an idea of how many calories you will burn walking your dog, enter your height, weight and age into this calculator. Then select “walk – dog walk” from the activity drop-down menu and enter either time OR distance. The estimated amount of calories burned will appear.
For example (me), a 165 lb person walking for 45 minutes at a normal walking pace will burn 213 calories. I walk Chester and Gretel at least 3 days a week for 45 minutes each so I burn 639 calories a week dog walking.
To be clear though, this calculator is for a walk where you are intentionally exercising – walking at a brisk pace with few or no stops to sniff around. Sniff-fest type walks are just fine if your goal is to fill fido’s nose with wonderful scents. However, you and your dog won’t burn many more calories doing that than you do sitting on the couch.
For ambitious types that eventually want to get into jogging or hiking with their dogs and up the calorie burn, here is a beginner tip:
Just like people who aren’t used to exercise, dogs should start off slow. Moderately-paced walking is a good way to start—it lets canine athletes build their cardiovascular and muscle strength without putting undue stress on their joints. A daily ten- to 15-minute walking session is a good start; you can build to an hour a day if Rover seems up to it. If, after a few months, he’s doing well and can handle long, fast walks without fatigue, he can graduate to jogging with you.
Give the calculator a try and tell us how many calories you burn a week walking your dog.