**Guest post from Janet S.**
Recently, I started the Couch to 5K program with my 9- year- old daughter. She is working at her own pace and I’m sticking with the complete program. My goal is to finish and actually run a 5K, which would be pretty good for this non-runner.
As I started my training, I started to think how I could incorporate my pets. In the past, we’ve used bicycle joggers to take our Samoyed/Border Collie mix dogs on bike rides with us. However, as they get older and deal with medical issues like lupus, we have to be very cautious with how we exercise with them.
The beginning of the program looks very good to take my older dogs on. It is a combination of a warm-up five minute brisk walk, followed by sixty second alternates of jogging and walking, then a five minute cool-down walk. That is just wonderful for the dogs I have. However, as it goes further, I do not think my dogs can handle 30 minutes of running so I am thinking about how to keep them healthy and active.
Every good training program needs a variety of elements. Here are some things I am considering for my pets. Please feel free to comment on what you do with your animals and give some ideas.
Cross-Training: Every good athlete works on cross-training.
• Alternate walking and jogging.
• Have a fun game day. Play with balls.
• Mix in some agility exercises.
• Take a swim and let your pet splash in the water (when warm). Be sure to protect your pet from danger and yourself with the proper water safety equipment.
Proper Clothing/Proper Conditions: Each athlete tries to wear the proper gear for the climate and activity. Humans and pets can get injured in any weather condition.
• Cold weather/ice. Consider shorter times out and watch for ice. Does your dog need a coat?
• Muddy or rugged. Consider boots to protect your pet’s feet.
• Hot weather. Stay hydrated; if you are thirsty, your pet probably is too. Bring a water bottle for them too.
Diet/Rest: We all need time to rest and recover from activities. Remember to take time to rest.
• Take a day to pamper your pet, brush off that loose hair. Massage your own feet, take a nice warm bath.
• Eat healthy meals, well proportioned. Feed your pet a healthy diet and do not overfeed. Consider a food with good ingredients such as Drs. Foster and Smith Adult Lite Dog Food.
• Consider a supplement to keep bones and joints strong such as Joint Care. Consult your local veterinarian for the right supplement for your pet’s health needs.
First Aid: Injuries can happen, be prepared and remember to never push yourself or your pet too far.
• Have some Vetrap™ in your first aid kit. It is great for humans and dogs!
• Keep your pets nails trimmed and have some styptic pads or pens on hand for any broken nail emergencies.
• Watch your dogs pads carefully on varying terrain. Consider a cream to help restore the pads and elbows. It is safe on puppies too.
• Always consult your local veterinarian if you see anything different or unusual.
Dogs are great to exercise with, but other pets may not fit in. If they still like the attention and to come with, there are some great options like a stroller that can be used for cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other small animals. You can also consider an outdoor playpen for your pets to play in while you garden or do other activities nearby.
So, as the weather starts to warm up and the ice melts, what are your goals for personal and pet fitness? What new thing would you like to try this year? I wish you some wonderful and safe bonding times with your pet!