Workout like a Dog

Workout like a Dog

If you’re looking to get fit this January, one charity has created a special bootcamp for you.

National pet charity Blue Cross has launched Work Out Like A Dog, the world’s first exercise class aimed at humans with exercises inspired by dogs. The charity is raising awareness of the importance of exercise for a dog's health and happiness, as high numbers of dogs arrive at their centres with behavioural problems stemming from boredom and lack of stimulation because they simply haven’t been exercised properly.

Created by Blue Cross and qualified PT and fitness instructor Born Barikor, all of the exercises in the 45-minute aerobic and conditioning workout for humans have either been adapted from a dog’s favourite exercises or have been directly inspired by man’s best friend. They include HIIT ball fetch, tug-of-war, Frisbee and even having humans mimic a dog’s bag of tricks as part of a circuit routine.
Mandy Jones, Director of Rehoming at Blue Cross added, "We hope the Work Out Like A Dog bootcamp will be an eye-opener for dog owners and would-be dog owners. Humans can communicate when they feel frustrated or want a change of scenery; if they need to let off steam with a good long run they just head out and do it. By contrast most pet dogs are completely reliant on us picking up signals that they require some stimulation or have to spend some energy. This workout should remind everyone what a huge emotional and physical difference it can make when we get that right!

"Every year we take in high numbers of dogs from often heartbroken owners of pets with behavioural problems ranging from being mischievous to destructive and even aggressive. While each case is unique and complex, in a number of them issues arise from the pet being under-stimulated or frustrated, and we can see improvements when they start getting the right amount of play and exercise. That’s why, in addition to the clinical and rehoming work Blue Cross does we want to educate owners too; the more informed they are, the better equipped they’ll be to give their pets a long, healthy and happy life in a forever home."

PT Born Barikor explained, "Anyone would agree that in addition to losing weight or toning up, regular exercise acts as an incredible release for pent-up energy or stress. We weren’t designed to spend all day cooped up and sedentary - and neither were our furry friends! With Work Out Like A Dog we wanted participants to channel the joy a dog feels playing their favourite games in the park, as well as the physical benefits."

Behavioural experts from Blue Cross have also devised some top workout tips for dog lovers:

1.  Swot up! Different breeds enjoy different activities; labradors love to retrieve so fetch is perfect, while huskies were bred to run, so are likely to enjoy joining you on a jog. Even mixed breeds inherit strong instincts, so do your homework to ensure your dog gets the most from its walks, and try different games to see what they enjoy doing most.

2.   How fit is your dog already? If they aren’t used to vigorous exercise, they’ll need to work up to it. Older may dogs have less stamina and be more prone to injury. If in doubt, ask your vet.

3.  Know when to stop. Remain vigilant even if your dog is young and fit; some won’t want playtime to end, even if they’re exhausted. If you see signs your dog is tired start to wind them down. Walk home at a gentle pace; they benefit from post-workout cool-downs too!

4.  Have the right kit: Use toys which are designed for dogs, as some (such as frisbees) created for humans may have features which could hurt your dog. Buy from a specialist pet supplier to be sure. Also use the correct sized toys – large dogs can choke on small toys. Have water with you, especially in warm weather.

5.   Play safe. Only ever let your dog off the lead in large open spaces, away from roads, and if you are confident it will come when called. Stay conscious of other dogs nearby.

6.   Don’t forget to HAVE FUN! This is great bonding time for you and your dog, enjoy yourselves! (And you might even get a bit fitter to boot.)

The bootcamp will be running daily from Monday 30 January to Friday 3 February at 7.30am in Victoria Park, meeting at the Park Pavilion. Spaces are available here with a suggested donation of £5 to Blue Cross. There is also a workout sheet available to download for those who can’t make it to the classes.

Photos: Blue Cross
Megan Chapple

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