Exercising with your dog is a great way to strengthen your bond and to get some cardiovascular exercise in at the same time. While canine/human workouts/exercising can be fun, they can also be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken, especially during the summer months in Arizona. The following tips will help to ensure that you both are safe.
Before exercising with your dog: Dogs should be evaluated by a veterinarian before starting a workout/exercise program. The dog’s age is a big consideration. Long distance workouts/exercise routines are not good for young and developing dogs and dogs that are too old may need to take it easy as well.
Consider the environmental factor: During the warmer months, keep your workouts to early morning or in the late evening, when the temperature is lower. Arizona summers can result in heat stroke and hot pavement will burn a dog’s feet. In Arizona it is a good practice to have “booties” for your dog—they do get used to them!
Keep your dog to one side of you the entire time: It is essential that you train your dog to stick to one side of you and not to dart in front while exercising beside you. This could cause you to trip, which can result in injury to both of you.
Do not tie the leash to your wrist: This could cause injury to you or your dog if he/she makes an unexpected jerk. Consider a hands-free leash, such as Cesar’s Dog Walking Utility Belt for long distance walks, biking, or hikes.
Stay hydrated: In Arizona you should always carry water while exercising with your dog. This is especially crucial during the hot Arizona summers.
After your workout/exercise routine: Check your dog’s feet for cuts, scrapes, or signs of worn down pads. If you worked out in a grassy or woodsy area, check his/her fur for burrs, ticks, and other foreign objects. Make sure to give your dog plenty of water to replenish fluids lost during the workout. Allow your dog to rest properly in between exercise routines.
Don’t leave your dog in the car, even for a couple minutes: On an 85-degree day, it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of your car to reach 102 degrees, even when the windows have been left open an inch or two. When the temperature is a pleasant 70 degrees the car’s interior can reach 120 degrees in 30 minutes. In Arizona you cannot just run inside for a quick errand with your dog in the car.
If your dog is overcome by the heat: Bring down body temperature by soaking your dog in cool (not ice) water. Make sure that water does not get into the mouth or nose of an unconscious animal. In a state of shock, he could easily choke. Seek immediate veterinary care.
Excerpts from Cesar Millan and Dr. Karen Becker.