YOU’RE WORKING LIKE A DOG. BUT HOW IS YOUR WORK SCHEDULE WORKING OUT FOR YOUR FAITHFUL FRIEND? IN OUR OVERWORKED, FASTER-THAN-THE-SPEED-OF-LIGHT SOCIETY, OUR PETS ARE TOO OFTEN THE SILENT LOSERS.
Often, pets are our best barometers, they reflect our mood, our rhythm and daily routine; the quality of our lives determines how our pets feel and how they respond to the world around them. Unfortunately, us humans tend to take our furry friends for granted- spending an hour here and there is not enough. Long hours at the office don’t just throw our lives out of balance, they also directly affect the health and happiness of our four-legged friends. When we’re short of time, energy and attention, or just plain never home, our pets pay the price. We owe it to those that depend on us to make the effort to work on our relationships- even with our canine companions.
What better way to share some quality time than keeping fit with Fido? If you’re a pet owner, or thinking of becoming one, consider trying to add in at least one of the following suggestions to your weekly time spent with your pet.
Take up agility classes. Dogs at any age can learn how to jump through hoops, tunnels, and run up and down teeter-totters. Let you dog have fun in this doggy playground, and with a little effort you can likewise get an effective workout as you lead your dog through the events.
On the weekends, stroll with your pet to get the newspaper, instead of picking it up at the grocery store. Off-leash parks are meant for you to run around too! Don’t just stand in one spot as your dog runs around. Play tag with him/her, go for a jog or bike ride, or walk around the perimeter of the area as your pet runs free.
Head for the great outdoors, rather than always working out indoors. If you’re like most pet owners, your poor pet is all-alone from 8am to 5pm each workday. Rather than locking them home alone again as you head out for the gym after dinner, try to take them with you on an outdoor walk/jog/run/bikeride/rollerblade/hike. Your body will love the cross-training, and your pet will love spending time with you.
More recent research seems to suggest your pet can act as a personal trainer, too. Dog and cat owners have been shown to be more physically active than non-pet owners (Raina et al., 1999).
Even better news: owning a dog has been linked to decreased blood pressure and reduced re-infarction risk for individuals with cardiovascular disease (Anderson, Reid, & Jennings, 1992; Friedmann, & Thomas, 1995).
Unlike the exercise equipment machines at the gym, your dog will always express enthusiasm if he/she sees you putting on your running shoes. And, pets need exercise too! Remember that your care-giving responsibilities include keeping your pet at a healthy weight and exercising them daily. Keeping this in mind will ensure that you get daily activity too – and help you sustain a healthy relationship between you and your best friend.