11 Exercises For Pet Owners

Owning a pet can do wonders for your health – they provide constant joy, happiness and companionship, but they can be beneficial for our physical health too – especially with bikini season looming!

The 2011 Purina Pet Care Study found that close to 40 per cent of Australian pet owners use their furry friend to help them get fit. For women, 41 per cent depend on their pets to pump up their heart rate, compared with 32 percent of male pet owners.

Purina’s resident animal behaviourist, Dr Jo Righetti, has provided some great ways to incorporate your dog or cat into your fitness regime, ensuring you’re on track for that perfect beach bod while giving them a great work out too.

Dr Jo’s pet workout suggestions:

1. Tug of paws

Hold your dog’s favourite chew toy, and squat with your feet hip distance apart. Hold for 10 counts whilst playing ‘tug of paws’ with your dog. Slowly stand and repeat, giving your hips, thighs, hamstrings and bottom a good work out!

2. Squat fish

If you have a cat, go fishing with them whilst doing your squats. Fill an old sock with shredded paper or cotton wool balls and tie it to a pole- you can also use a cat toy on a pole. Hold the pole in front of you whilst squatting with your feet hip distance apart. Hold your squat for 10 counts whilst waving the pole around – it’s a sure-fire way to get toned and keep your cat entertained.

3. Skip to my lou

Skipping is a perfect aerobic exercise that can be done inside or out. Start by teaching your dog the idea of stepping over the rope, then start to add the rhythm of the rope going around. You’ll have your heart rate up in no time. (note – only to be attempted by agile and athletic breeds!)

4. Double fetch

Remember the days when you were teaching your pup how to fetch? You were doing more exercise than they were! So, mix ‘fetch’ up and make it a race. Standing with your furry exercise buddy, throw a tennis ball and then sprint to see who can get to it first.

5. Crunch time

Tone your tummy while your dog runs off their energy! Throw your dog’s favourite toy or ball when you get to the top of your sit up and watch your dog run to chase it. Count how many crunches you can fit in before your dog returns with the ball. Repeat 10 times.

6. Dog-tag

Get your heart pumping with a playful game of dog-tag. Tap your dog, turn around and run away. This quality time is also a great sprinting exercise!

7. Downward dog

You have to see this one to believe it! ‘Doga’, as it is called means you and your pet can enjoy yoga together. There are classes on DVD’s to guide you through sharing your yoga routine with your pet.

8. Kitty crunches

Another core cruncher can involve your cat and help keep them occupied. This indoor activity combines sit ups and a visually appealing light show. Using small torches in each hand, pause at the top of each sit-up, tightening your abs and wave the lights across a wall. Your cat will chase the beams and your abs will definitely feel better after.

9. Cat lunge

As straightforward as the name suggests, hold your kitty close to your chest and complete three sets of 10 lunges. The muscles in your lower body will appreciate the increase in weight, and your cat will love the cuddles.

10. Agility course

Create jumps, obstacles and weaving poles around your backyard or park and complete the agility course with your dog. Record the times it takes and try and improve your timing each session.

11. Classic jogging/walking

Of course, the easiest and most common work-out is a classic walk or run. Your dog will love the work-out and the time spent running by your side. To up your endurance training, break into a short sprint every minute and get your dog to chase you. You’ll not only be keeping up your heart rate, your abs will get a work out from laughing.

Note – If you choose to exercise your dog at a high level i.e. jogging, agility etc., make sure your dog is over the age of one, so wait till your little pup finishes growing before undertaking serious exercise programs with them. Remember to consult your doctor and your vet prior to starting any exercise program.

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