If you are looking for a fun way to incorporate fitness on your life, try walking your dog. I recently developed a new attitude to my health and fitness and have taken it up with a vengeance.
I admit it. I have been lax for years about getting in some daily exercise.
I have arthritis in my right knee and both hips, and I used it as an excuse to stop walking my dog.
However, I have discovered some things that make the process easier and allows me to get the exercise I need in my day.
Walking your dog is a great way to keep your motivation going for getting in your daily exercise.
It was hard to get going at first. Every step hurt and I had to sit a LOT on whatever would do as a seat.
Rocks, fire hydrants, neighbor’s walls…anything that would take some of the stress off my hips helped.
I could barely make it around the block at first. But little by little, I got stronger and the pain from arthritis eased with each passing day.
One of the ways I kept my motivation up was walking with my dog, Ashleigh – an 11 year old German Shepherd with a touch of arthritis and a healthy dose of “alpha.”
Once she figured out that we were going to be walking again, she got excited. As in ….”OMG can we walk today?
Pleeease say yes. I’m ready when you are. It’s time, it’s time,” kind of excited. Unlike a human walking buddy who cancels because an appointment came up, Ashleigh is always there ready to go. She’ll walk anywhere.
- Around the block? √
- Down to the corner and back? √
- Through the woods to the softball field? √√
- Hop in the car for a ride to the local walking trail? √√√
Why walk with dogs?
- They never make excuses not to walk
- Dogs seem to instinctively know that exercise is good for them and walking with them is a bonding experience for you and your pet.
- Dogs get overweight just like humans do, and taking them along on your daily walk keeps both of your weight in check.
- Rain? Who cares? A dog will walk in any weather
- She never criticizes your work out clothes.
- A dog is never late for the walk.
- Dog always have energy on tap. Walking with a dog usually means you will walk faster.
Knowing that I have such a great companion gives me lots of motivation to make sure I don’t miss a day.
I am very fortunate to have a lot of options for my morning walk. We live very close to a local amphitheater that is pretty much deserted during the week.
There are lots of trails all around this area and it is within a short walking distance.
One of the best things about it, at least for me, is that I don’t have to leash my dog here. This appeals to me because… how shall I put it? Ashleigh is a pain in the butt on a leash.
Unless she can be walking several steps in front of me, she isn’t happy. I’ve watched just about every episode of the Dog Whisperer and have tried to put everything into practice that Cesar suggests.
She is a lost cause. And at 11 years old, I don’t think even Cesar could teach this old dog new tricks.The amphitheater leads to a local softball park. Also deserted during the week days.
Again. No leash. I bring it along, of course, as well as a dog clicker. I leash her up for “practice” from time to time.
As for the clicker, I am trying my darnedest to get her to walk where I want her to walk (by my side and not ahead of me.)
Ashleigh’s idea of complying with the clicker is to slow down, come back and walk right in front of me. Just a little slower than my gait. Sigh….One of the nicest parts of the softball field walk is a stream that snakes through it. A beautiful scenic stream, better known as “oh goodie, I get to swim today.”
Out comes the clicker. Note to self. “Next time bring a towel.”They say that dogs should get a chance to sniff and relieve themselves when you walk. Fortunately, the softball field is well set up for this.
I just bring along dog clean up bags, and dispose of them in the plentiful trash bins. This spot on the walk is a favorite of Ashleigh.
It is a cut through the woods, right next to the soft ball field and has lots of great smells. As the weeks have progressed, and my hips got more and more used to the walk, I decided that it was time for my hips to try out my favorite trail at Lake Benson Park. This means several things:
- Ashleigh has to walk on the lead. (“You think I can walk nicely by your side now, but I think I’ll be alpha today instead.” )
- There will be lots of other dogs. (“Oh goodie…other dogs. I can really practice pulling on the lead today.”)
- The park is 15 minutes away by car so it means we can’t just walk there. (“OMG…a ride, a ride, a ride. I can’t wait to get to the park where I can really pull on the lead cause I am so excited today.”)
- You get the idea…but this is why it’s worth a leash pulling, alpha tending, excited dog walk is worth it.
Into the car we go and off to Lake Benson. She looks almost sad here. It is because I made her sit while I tried to take a kazillion pictures before I found a good one. Don’t let her demeanor fool you.
She’s excited to go and eyeing that leash with a “you just wait” thought.
Lake Benson park has the most fabulous walking trail. It ranges from a paved walking trail around a large open area, to a woodland trail and a trail that leads down to the lake.
There are bridges, lots of places to sit, which makes my hips happy, and the most scenic views imaginable. It is, by far, my favorite place to walk, pulling alpha dog on lead or not. We spent the next hour walking the trails, sniffing the smells, making doggie friends and enjoying the view. I think I actually wore my dog out today.
When we got to the top of a long wooded hill, I was longingly thinking how good it would feel to sit on the seat looking out over the lake. Little did I know that Ashleigh also loves that spot and she got first dibs on it!
Not a lot of room left for my poor hips, is there?
After we fought over the seat for a while, and I finally got a chance to rest (too), we continued the woodland trail part of the walk that leads to the lake area. There are two seats here. We both got a chance to sit!
We had such a great day. I’m pretty sure Ashleigh remembers the park from when we walked it before.
She seemed to know where the best parts were and took my favorite trails as though we had not missed a few years walking here. Now, if I can just get her to forget how to pull on a lead, we’ll be all set!
And not quite sure how I will ever take another car ride again without my buddy…she seems to really like her new home.