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So you want your dog to join you on jogs or bike rides. Maybe you want to take up a fun sport like flying disc or agility with your dog. Here’s how to get started getting your dog in shape. 

Before beginning an exercise program to get your dog in shape, you should take your dog to the veterinarian. Whether you want to jog or bicycle with your dog – or take up a sport like flying disc or agility – you should first be sure your dog is healthy and ready for exercise.

Stress from a new activity can bring on health problems that have been lying dormant or gone unnoticed. A veterinary checkup is important to assess a dog’s physical condition, test for parasites and make sure vaccinations are current.

Once your dog is cleared for exercise, you should start slowly and gradually based on your dog’s age, breed and physical condition. This gives the musculoskeletal system time to adapt. Beginning too aggressively with a full workout does more harm than good.

Here are tips to get you started:

  • Take time to warm up and stretch muscles before vigorous exercise to help reduce muscle or ligament tearing.
  • Avoid exercise on hard surfaces, such as concrete and pavement.
  • During exercise, monitor for signs of fatigue or injuries.
  • Reduce the risk of heat stress by giving water before, during and after exercise.
  • Cool down after exercise to prevent muscles from getting tight.