A. Yes! You can! Especially since your dog will provide the motivation for you to stick with your exercise plan.
As we all know, the most critical ingredient for success with a diet and/or exercise is willpower – getting out there and actually doing it day after day.
A study at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that, when dog owners exercise with their dogs, they lose more weight than with most nationally known diet plans. The study showed that participants who walked their dogs every day lost an average of 14 pounds in less than a year! People who walk their dogs for exercise stay with the program because they don’t want to disappoint their dogs.
Despite the strong emotional bond dog owners and dogs share, many people have difficulty controlling their dogs on leash. This can significantly reduce the frequency and enjoyment of walks.
The key is to get your dog to focus on you, not on the many distractions that are outdoors, such as other dogs, squirrels, and joggers. Walk your dog on a loose leash (not a retractable leash) next to you. Stop walking if he pulls ahead and calmly call him back to you. When he returns to your side, praise him in a high pitched voice.
Keep your dog’s attention on you by walking fast, then slow. Stop short. Ask him for a sit. Change directions. Some owners carry a small squeaky toy in their pockets to distract their dogs from pulling ahead.
With practice, dogs and their owners can walk as a team, resulting in a fun outing for the dog, and the benefits of both weight loss and overall fitness for the owners.