BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Be realistic: Aim for twice a week, one hour each, for first-timers. Look at your lifestyle and schedule times for your runs together. Three times a week is ideal. You need to walk your dog every day but pick two days where you can boost the exercise and join in.
Start slowly: You and your dog will need to build up your fitness levels gradually. Don't overdo it and burn out – take pride in your gradual gains together, whether it's getting up that hill or going an extra block.
Communicate: Watch a dog trainer with a pooch and you'll soon realize that communication is everything. Cheer on your dog, correct consistently, encourage eye contact – all of these will build the bond between you and your dog, and keep you both motivated.
Choose your location: Don't run down a busy sidewalk – there are too many distractions and people in the way. Get out to a boardwalk or a park, where you and your dog can focus on the run.
Choose your leash: Avoid retractable leashes – they can give a dog too much distance and can curl around trees and other people, causing rope burn. A two-metre leash will work, and leather is nice for strong dogs because there's little give. Leashes that attach to your waist are terrific – you can always use your hands when necessary, but they give you freedom while you run.
A SAMPLE WORKOUT
Warm up: Get both of your heart rates going with a fast walk or slow jog for five minutes.
Cardio exercise: Run or alternate run/walk for 15 minutes, pushing yourself without overdoing it. Add a few fast run/sprints into the mix to keep your heart rate up and your body working hard. Changing speeds encourages your dog to constantly pay attention to you.
Strength train: For three to five minutes, get your dog to sit and stay (while you hold or step on the leash) while you do push-ups on a park bench, lunges on the grass or hold a low squat against a tree. Keep in mind your pooch might not be used to holding a position for more than 15 to 20 seconds. He's learning, so reward him with praise or a treat, before he breaks his stay, to build his confidence.
Repeat: Complete another cycle of cardio and strength training.
Cool down: Slow your heart rate by lightly jogging and doing dynamic stretches (lift your legs during a walk to stretch the hamstrings, swing your arms gently to stretch your back) for five minutes.
Stretch: End your workout with two to three minutes of stationary stretching, holding each stretch for a minimum of 20 seconds. Your dog can be in a down stay (lying down) – he'll be ready to relax, and he's deserved it.
Getting started and workout tips provided by Sal Sloan, owner of Fetching.