Tips for Exercise Safety for Both You and Your Dog


Exercising with your dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have with your pet, and it’s also great for your health.

However, exercising with your dog has its own unique safety concerns, so here are nine tips to keep you and your dog safe while exercising together.


1) Know your dog

Dogs have different personalities and energy levels. When it comes to exercise, walking might be enough for some pooches, while others may thrive on running or hiking. It’s important to know your dog before beginning any kind of rigorous activity with him.

If you aren’t sure what your dog enjoys doing, take him to a training class so you can find out how he reacts in different environments. A trainer will also help you get your dog familiar with commands like sit and stay.

Not only will knowing your dog better make exercising together more enjoyable, but it will also help keep both of you safe when working out.


2) Never leave your dog alone

When you’re out on a run or at a dog park, make sure you always have another person watching your dog. Not only is it possible for dogs to run off, but they can also be injured by other animals—or even get into things they shouldn’t (including antifreeze, which is toxic).

Make sure that if you are exercising with friends, someone else takes responsibility for your pet. If you don’t know anyone who can watch your dog, then consider hiring a professional dog walker or pet sitter instead.

Most services will not charge extra for exercise walks as long as they are within normal business hours. And when walking alone, use a retractable leash so that your hands remain free in case of an emergency.


3) Walk at dawn or dusk

Dogs have superb night vision, but their eyes are susceptible to damage from UV rays. When exercising with your dog, it’s best to avoid midday when the sun is brightest. Instead, choose a time early in the morning or just before sunset; you’ll benefit from avoiding glare and your dog won’t be harmed by harmful rays.

If possible, walk on grassy surfaces rather than concrete—dogs can get cuts on their paws from rough surfaces like asphalt. And always carry water for both of you!

A good rule of thumb: Carry twice as much water for your dog as you do for yourself.


4) Wear bright colors

We may all have our favorites, but it’s a good idea to wear bright colors when you’re going for a run in your neighborhood. Not only will you be more visible to cars or other people (making you safer), but it can also make you feel safer as well!

Research has shown that wearing bright colors helps us feel more confident and secure—and research has also shown that feeling confident makes us perform better at tasks.

So if you want to start running regularly, make sure you invest in some brightly colored workout gear. It could help keep you motivated, too.

A dog should always be on a leash: One of the biggest risks of exercising with your dog is letting them roam free while you work out. While many owners enjoy letting their dogs off-leash from time to time, it’s never a good idea while they’re running alongside you.

Dogs can easily dart into traffic or get lost while they explore—two problems that are easily avoided by keeping them on a leash whenever they go outside.


5) Bring a whistle

It’s important to stay aware of your surroundings while you exercise, even with your furry friend by your side. Bring a whistle so that you can alert passersby if anything goes wrong—or if you need help. And remember: Don’t let Fido off-leash unless it’s appropriate (like at a dog park) or unless he has been properly trained.

Dogs are naturally curious creatures, which means they might run into traffic or get lost. A leash is safer for both you and your pet. Plus, you don’t want to leave him alone on an empty stomach; check out Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe and Happy at Outdoor Events.


6) Consider an ID tag

Make sure your dog wears a collar with an ID tag so people know where to find you if he gets lost. This way, someone can return him home safely or direct you toward him if he wanders off. You should also consider getting a microchip implanted in your dog’s shoulder for backup purposes.

If your dog is hit by a car or picked up by animal control, chances are good that he’ll be able to get back home as long as he has his chip under his skin.

Some shelters even scan for chips when they intake animals; it’s not uncommon for dogs who have been missing from their homes for weeks to be reunited with their owners thanks to these chips.


7) Plan out your route

Before you start jogging with your pup, decide on a route you’ll both enjoy. Running a few trial laps around your neighborhood is a great way to scope out nearby parks, trails, or sidewalks. Once you have a path in mind, check it for hazards that could endanger either of you—like holes in the sidewalk or areas where cars frequently park.

It’s also important to stay aware of traffic while running; if there are no designated bike lanes in your area, consider using headphones so that you can keep an ear out for passing cars.

If possible, run during off-peak hours when traffic is lighter (and drivers are less distracted). And remember: Always keep your dog on a leash!


8) Plan for emergencies

When you plan your route, make sure there are safe places for you and your dog to take a break in case of an emergency. Try visiting your route a few times before bringing Fido along. Remember that heat can be just as dangerous for dogs as it is for people, so don’t try long-distance runs or jogs on hot days.

Lastly, keep plenty of water on hand—for both of you! Make sure he stays hydrated throughout your workout. As a rule of thumb, carry one bottle per 20 pounds of body weight.


9) Talk about it before you go

Make sure you’re both on board with a plan before heading out. Even if your dog is familiar with basic commands, let her know what you expect her to do. Then make sure she listens! If you notice that she isn’t paying attention or seems distracted, call it quits for now.

If you want to continue exercising but need to change locations or slow down a bit, take some time to practice in an area where distractions are minimal (like your backyard). That way when you head back out into more distracting areas like parks or trails, your dog will be able to focus more easily.

Also, remember that not all dogs love to exercise—it may take some trial and error to find activities your dog enjoys. Finally, consider wearing reflective gear while running at night so cars can see you and other people can spot you better. It could save lives!

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