Work out with your pet

Studies have shown that you’re more likely to adhere to an exercise program if a family member or a friend is included in the commitment to exercise. I don’t know about you, but convincing the kids to join you on a walk around the neighborhood is about as much fun as going to the dentist. If they don’t whine about missing their Gameboy, they are bound to challenge you with such favorites as: “Have you lost weight, yet?”, “How long do we have to do this?” and my favorite “Can we talk about my allowance?” You know, there is someone in the house who would love to join you, will always be enthusiastic, and probably won’t require a raise in his allowance. Fido.

Chances are Fido could shed a pound or two. Did you know that according to a recently released report by the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council, one out of every three dogs is overweight? So, do you both a favor and go for a walk. Added bonus, he will be healthier, happier.

Just as it’s wise to get your doctor’s blessing before starting an exercise program, check with your vet for an ok before Rover dons his fashionable track suit. If Rover has been sleeping on the couch in the family room for the last few months and his idea of exercise is to spin in circles to make his spot just right, he may not be ready to compete in the Iditarod. You both need to go slow starting out.

Some thoughts about hiking with your dog:

Where is Spot’s Doggy Diploma? – Is your dog trained to walk on the leash? Nothing ruins a walk more than being dragged down the street as your beloved pet chases a squirrel up a tree. A close second is when Fido breaks loose and you end on a six hour hike of the neighborhood with a baloney sandwich as bait. Know your limits and his.

• One for Me, and One for You – Water, Good for you, good for your pet. I like to carry two water bottles, one for each of us. When ever you take a drink, offer one to your dog.

• Is it Hot in Here? – With no sweat glands and only panting available to disperse body heat, dogs are much more susceptible to heat stroke than we are. Unusually rapid panting and/or a bright red tongue are signs of heat exhaustion in your pet.

• Nature’s Nasty Little Bloodsuckers – No, not your kids, I’m talking ticks. Avoid tall grasses, and wooded areas. If your walk includes either venue, consider long sleeves and long pants tucked into high socks. Wear a hat – ticks like hair. By checking your dog – and yourself – thoroughly after each walk you can help avoid Lyme disease. Ticks tend to congregate on your dog’s ears, between the toes and around the neck and head.

• My Dogs are Killing Me – Remember your dog is walking barefoot. Some trails are littered with small pieces of broken glass that can slice a dog’s paws. Nasty thorns can also blanket trails that we in shoes may never notice. Also, remember asphalt can get hot and Fifi’s pads are sensitive.

• Don’t Drink the Water – Natural sources of water, including fast-flowing streams, might contain a nasty microscopic protozoa called Giardia, waiting to wreak havoc on a dog’s intestinal system. Think Montezuma’s Revenge for your dog. My dog has an affinity for eating mud, trust me you don’t want to deal with this one. Keep a diligent eye on him. Most dogs can learn to drink happily from a sports bottle.

Adhering to a few precautions and with a little advance planning, you and your new exercise partner can both benefit from a venture into the great outdoors. And, I promise, he won’t ask for a raise in his allowance, but throw him an extra Milk Bone for being a pal.

Every summer, our family went up to the little cabin on the lake. What it lacked in amenities, it made up for in memories – a spotted owl, mom’s potato salad, marshmallows over an open campfire, diving off the dock or just floating down the river in inner tubes. Bear at Home celebrates the places and products which remind us of a simpler time when craftsmanship guaranteed satisfaction, and service was just good business. We hope these rustic gifts will grace your home and inspire future generations of memories.

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