The number of UK pet owners showing an interest in exercising with their pets has substantially increased over the past few years. That’s right, gone are the days of a daily dog walk being considered an effective workout! With increasing humanisation of pets and growing awareness around the importance of physical activity for both pets and owners, are there ways that we could be getting more creative when exercising with our furry fitness buddies?
How can Regular Exercise Benefit both you and your Pet?
Besides the obvious physical benefits with regards to health and wellbeing, exercising with your pet can have numerous non-physical and less obvious benefits. For example;
Improved Mental Health
Sometimes it’s more difficult to motivate yourself when exercising alone, so working out with your furry friend can bring a sense of companionship, and be a great source of support and encouragement to many individuals. Additionally, getting out in the open can have numerous psychological benefits – such as improved morale and self-esteem in humans, and a generally happier, healthier, more contented pet!
If ever there was a perfect conversation starter, it’s seeing a cute animal out and about! So, exercising with your pet could be a great gateway into making conversation with others, and thus reduce feelings of isolation or loneliness. Additionally, getting outside with a pet is a great opportunity for your pet to become more comfortable when encountering other animals, and socialising in this way may help to reduce behavioural issues in the future.
Both you and your pet can strengthen your bond with each other by regularly spending time together. Combining this with exercise will contribute to a good routine for your pet, and help them to feel loved during bonding time.
What are some safe ways you can Exercise with your Pet?
It is no secret that one of the most common methods of exercise for pets is walking. But, in addition to frequent walks, many dog owners are becoming increasingly interested in jogging with their pup too!
Whether you like to run in the park, on the roadside, or want to encourage your furry friend to run on a specialist pet treadmill — (yes, that really is a thing!), your pet will likely appreciate the leg stretch and breath of fresh air! Just make sure that you are keeping them safe at all times, such as using a shorter lead to allow for more control when running near a road, or investing in reflective clothing and equipment for you and your pet!
Swimming is a notoriously popular activity for dogs, ferrets or other water-loving pets. But, have you ever considered swimming with your pet, rather than passively watching from the side lines? In the UK, an increasing number of pet specific swimming pools are popping up across the UK, and more and more are permitting pet parents to swim with their furry friend, such as Canine Dip and Dive in Suffolk.
One thing to note, however, is that swimming with a pet may not be for every owner. It is crucial to ensure that your pet is comfortable and competent when swimming alone before you take a dip alongside them. To keep pets safe in the water, consider purchasing tailor fitted life jackets or other flotation devices to give your pet some extra buoyancy support.
In addition, purchasing some water appropriate toys such as floating retrieval toys, diving toys and more can help to make the swimming experience even more fun for both you and your pet!
Playing with your Cat
While felines are sometimes less playful than other pets, a degree of physical activity in some form is essential to the health and wellbeing of a cat. One of the most common ways to exercise and bond with your furry friend is by getting out their cat toys with them. Providing your feline with a variety of different sizes, shapes, colours and textures/materials of cat toys introduced choice, which may encourage more frequent playtime and engage your cat.
However, bear in mind the importance of stocking safe cat toys. With increasing awareness of animal safety and welfare, cat parents are becoming ever more conscious about what they are purchasing for their animals. Cat toys that are robust and made of strong material are preferable, reducing the risk of small pieces becoming detached and potentially ingested. Additionally, while images online of cats enjoying a ball of yarn or chasing string may appear cute, flimsy toys such as these pose a risk of the cat becoming tangled.
Exercising with your Horse
Throughout time, horseback riding has been one of the most popular ways for humans and pets to exercise in harmony. But, going beyond this, have you ever considered some uncommon ways to exercise alongside your horse? For example, groundwork exercises can be done with your horse, such as lunging or liberty training. This can provide a way to workout alongside your horse at a lower intensity, at a time when riding is not practical or space is limited.
Alternatively, if you do wish to take the reins, changing up your riding route can be a great way to challenge yourself and your horse on new terrain. Hill work can also improve your horse’s cardiovascular fitness and endurance, and will allow you to work on your balance and core strength on uneven terrain.
Holidaying with your Pet
If you have an upcoming trip that involves some outdoorsy activities, consider saving some money on holiday care and taking your pet with you! Depending on your accommodation and plans, holidaying with your furry friend can be an excellent way for you to exercise with them in a new and enjoyable environment, such as going on different walks or hikes with your pet if applicable. Even small pets can join in the fun, with carrier backpacks or small animal leads being a great way to take your fur baby out. No matter the size or fitness level, having a pet with you on your holiday can prove to be a really enjoyable bonding experience!
In summary, the increasing popularity of exercising with a pet has the potential to benefit both you and your pet in terms of physical, mental and social wellbeing. Running, swimming and generally being active with your pet can help you to strengthen your bond with them – all while having a great time!
So go, grab your pet, and run to the park faster than a litter of hungry chihuahuas when they hear the words ‘dinner time!’.
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