We are 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 are good runners – why do you think there are so many weiner races out there?) but walking is the easiest, best way for you and your pooch to get exercise together.
We 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.
If you are just starting an exercise program, regular walk should be your aim. Start out with small walks around your neighborhood if you aren’t used to physical activity. After you can walk about an hour 4 days a week with ease then you can start adding longer, faster-paced walks or hikes.
To help get you motivated, you can calculate the calories you will burn while walking your dog. Enter your height, weight and age into this calculator, select “walk – dog walk” from the activity drop-down menu, enter either time OR distance, and the 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 for your dog to fill it’s nose with wonderful scents but you, and your dog, won’t burn many more calories doing that than you do sitting on the couch or washing dishes.
For ambitious types that eventually want to get into jogging or hiking with their dogs to 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.