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10 May . 2019

How exercising with your dog benefits you both

Dog people are fitter people, according to the feel-good experts at Men’s Health, which have named Austin as one of the most adventurous cities in the United States.

Having a dog leads you to clock an average of five hours walking every week, and just 15 minutes of petting and playing with your dog leads to a dramatic drop in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, a key contributor to heart disease and other health risks, according to Men’s Health.

Here are 6 more great reasons to start exercising with your dog.

Motivation. Most people say they walk for their dog’s benefit, but it’s actually a win-win activity for everyone. When reminded about the health benefits of walking their dogs, people increased their walks from an average of 10 minutes to 80 minutes per week.

Reduce unwanted barking. An inactive dog is a bored dog, and that can lead to frequent barking, which isn’t peaceful for anyone. Working breeds such as border collies and German shepherds especially need to have “jobs” to do. Give your dog her daily fix of exercise and let her channel that energy into a healthy activity. She’ll reward you by being calm and happy.

Strengthen your bond. Dogs are loyal and loving by nature, and exercising with your best friend can strengthen that bond even further, and even increase obedience. Depending on your dog’s age, size and health, experts generally recommend 30-45 minutes of vigorous exercise each day. You’ll find that your dog is an eager workout partner who never complains or cancels.

Anti-anxiety. Exercise is an effective antidote for anxiety in dogs, which can lead to attention-seeking and destructive behaviors, such as tearing up the house while you’re away.

Slow down aging. Keeping your dog physically and mentally active can help ward off age-related afflictions, but be sure to check with your vet first to determine the appropriate level of exercise for your aging dog. Watch for signs of stiffness and soreness after intense exercising. They could be signs that you need to reduce the amount of exercise or find a less stressful activity.

Healthy joints. Regular exercise helps your dog maintain joint health and overall fitness. Exercise also stimulates his mind and teaches social skills. If your dog learns how to play well at the dog park, that can translate into better behavior in other places as well.

With more than 700 acres of parks, trails and natural open spaces, Sweetwater is heaven for dogs and their people. If you don’t have a dog, consider adopting a loveable furry family member from Austin Pets Alive!, one of our nonprofit community partners.  Before you head off on the Sweetwater trails with your pup, please read these tips to keeping them safe when hiking with your dog in the Texas Hill Country