Image Credit: Jim Summers
For many dog owners in Los Angeles, taking your pup for a walk is more than just a trip along the sidewalk so he can do his business. It’s about enjoying the outdoors, squeezing in a workout, and spending quality time with your furry friend. One such hiking hotspot is the beloved Runyon Canyon in Hollywood - a few different trails with varying degrees of difficulty, but on each one you can scope copious amounts of six-pack abs, trendy athletic apparel, and adorable dogs.
Runyon Canyon is so popular, in fact, that it recently added a valet service. (That’s right, you can pay 10 bucks to avoid the hassle of parking…it’d be tragic to have to walk before your walk, right?) But local pet parents recently received the news that Runyon will be closed for pipe repairs beginning in April and lasting through July. You could hear the collective canine whimpers and human groans from miles away. But not to fret, Angelenos, there are plenty of other trails for you and Toto to teeter up (think Griffith Park, Escondido Falls, Solstice Canyon, Topanga Canyon).
If you’re not the hiking type (or refuse to hike until Runyon is back up and running), here are some other activity options to keep in your front pocket - along with a bag of treats.
Strength training: not just for bodybuilders at your gym.
If Toto’s only form of exercise is his walk along the block for potty time, he’s totally missing out. There’s a reason that the dudes and dudettes at your local 24 Hour Fitness are lifting weights, busting out sit-ups and staring at the ground in weird positions. (3 cheers for planking!) Strength training helps increase daily calorie burn, improve balance/ coordination, and stimulate muscle growth (along with a slew of additional health benefits). This also applies to Toto.
Sure, Toto can’t exactly heave a kettlebell into the air, but adding a bit of weight to his frame can upgrade almost any moment into a strength-building exercise. A weighted vest during Toto’s walk can help burn a higher number of calories, assist in faster weight loss, and make it easier for him to build/ maintain muscle.
Endurance training: getcha distance on.
Inherently, dogs are miniature endurance athletes - their magnificent little bodies are naturally meant to handle distances and duration. They’re full of “slow twitch fibers” which means they’re equipped to run and run and run…but you gotta ensure that Toto doesn’t injure himself. When you’re adding distance, duration, or intensity, go gradual. Start out with 5-10 minutes of low-intensity exercise per day and don’t add more than 20% total trotting time each week. For newbies, add short bouts of jogging to your walks, like 40 seconds of walking to 20 seconds of running, and work your way up. Endurance training has wonderful health perks for your pup like improved heart function and increased stamina, so you’ll definitely want to get your “endure on!”
Core training: much more than washboard abs.
Ever since planking scored its own hashtag, core work has majorly whittled its way into exercise regimes. And no wonder - because of its central location, your core is key in moving around efficiently and ensuring proper organ function. That’s why you wanna be attentive to Toto’s core too. A couple of these exercises can be fun for Toto, like the Roll Over (yep, exactly what you think it is), or Balancing (a wobble board, balance cushion or even fallen tree will do the trick).
The bottom line? Regardless of Toto’s workout type, he’s gotta move his body to remain a happy healthy furball.
Even the best doggy diet in the world needs to coincide with a “woof-while” workout. Keep these things in mind when pondering your pup’s exercise routine:
Toto will benefit from a mix of strength and endurance exercise.
Yep, cross-training for canines is a win!
Toto can’t outrun a poor diet.
It’s no secret that you can’t polish off bags of fast food, then hit the gym and still expect to look like Channing Tatum. Neither can Toto. Solid nutrition has to be paired with winning workouts.
Know how you can get a runner’s high? So can Toto.
You love the feeling when you’ve crushed a killer gym sesh and collapse on your couch, covered in sweat and joy. Well, Toto can also experience this feeling of euphoria.
Senior Toto needs exercise too.
As Toto ages, his body’s ability to hang onto muscle mass will decrease. Regular exercise can help slow down this process.
Toto uses fat as his first source of energy.
Human marathon runners always carb-load before a big race, because our bodies use carbs as the first fuel source. With pups, it’s fat. So if you plan to take Toto for a sweet long jog off into the sunset, make sure he’s “fat-equately” prepared.
What’s your favorite way to work out with your pup? Let us know in the comments below!