Cardio Canine: An exercise program for you and your dog

Cardio Canine: An exercise program for you and your dog

Michael and Koda lunge down the road near Colt State Park

Michael and Koda lunge down the road near Colt State Park
Michael and Koda lunge down the road near Colt State Park
Feeling soft around the edges ? Your pooch looking a little plump ? Have you and your dog put on a few extra pounds during this long New England winter ? Well, spring has finally sprung and it is time to get both of you back in shape. During the month of April, we will be running a introductory series of workouts to complement your dog-walking routine that will help you and your best friend shed that winter coat.
Cardio Canine is a safe, effective and easy exercise program. In the next few weeks, you can look forward to tips and tricks on exercises, nutrition, dog games for fitness, the health benefits for you and your dog, and skills to keep you both healthy, looking great and feeling good all year long.
Did you know that a direct correlation exists between overweight people and overweight pets? In fact, the United States is home to 40 million dogs, 40 percent of which are overweight! Like humans, dogs also suffer physical and mental health implications as a result of inactivity and poor nutrition. Physically, both species risk obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, immobility and osteoarthritis. Psychologically, humans suffer depression, lethargy and numerous food disorders, while overweight dogs battle neurotic grooming, excessive biting and chewing, digging, barking, pacing and hyperactivity.
Cardio Canine will provide you with the necessary exercise and nutritional guidelines to manage you and your dogs’ weight and health. The tools taught each week are designed to be fun, interactive and enable self-sufficiency, so you can enjoy many years with your best friend.

Getting started:
As with any fitness program, it is recommended that you take yourself and your dog for a check-up. Explain your weekly routine to your doctor and vet and verify that you and your dog are cleared for the weekly wor-outs. In addition, make sure you have your vet trim your dogs’ nails and assure he/she has healthy pads. Make sure your pads are healthy too! To monitor progress it is important to take you and your dogs’ starting weights. For advanced accuracy, you can add your measurements for waist, hips, thighs and arms and your dogs’ girth.

Necessities for You: Appropriate work-out clothes and footwear, a timer or stopwatch, and a bottle of water.
For your Dog: A leash or harness, preferably a retractable leash and harness for a safer and less cumbersome workout, with current pet identification and vaccine tags. (If you have 2 dogs, a split leash works best), and a collapsable water bowl.

Optional but Recommended: Heart rate monitor or pedometer, doggie backpack so your dog can carry his/her own water.

Things to be Aware of; Cardio Canine is best performed in the coolest part of the day; the warmer it is outside, the more you and your dog will require water breaks, shade and rest. Different breeds have different muscle mass, coats and leg lengths. A Border Collie will have a longer gait than a beagle, a German Shepherd will have a thicker coat than a Poodle, a Pit Bull more muscle fibers than a King Charles. Please research the basics about your dogs’ breed and its limitations. And use common sense—if you are gasping for air, or your dog is panting at a accelerated rate, slow down and modify the program to include more rest, extra water or longer walking intervals. Cardio Canine was created to build you both up, slowly and together, to avoid overexertion and unnecessary risks.


5 sets:
1 minute brisk walk followed by 1 minute light jog, to elevate your heart rates and get your bodies warmed up.
2 minute recovery walk, to lower your heart rates.

3 sets:
Walking lunges – 10x each leg, to tone your legs, specifically your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps
1 minute recovery walk

2 sets:
1 minute brisk walk followed by 1 minute moderate jog, to increase your heart rate and burn more calories.
1 minute recovery walk

2 sets:
Walking Lunges – 10x each leg
5 minute recovery and cool down walk

This workout should be completed a total of 3 times during the week

The Walking Lunge
•Stand upright with your legs hip-width apart
•Take right leg and make a step forward while your other leg remains planted
•Lower your back knee towards the ground (keep head, shoulders and hips in line and front knee should be over the ankle)
•Push off with your left foot and bring both feet to initial starting position.

Progress Report:
Be sure to keep a progress journal to track changes in you and your dogs’ endurance, mood and energy levels. Simple notes on ease and difficulty will create awareness on your degrees of fitness.
Asking yourself simple questions such as: Do you or your dog need more water or rest breaks? Do you have more control over your dog with a harness or collar and leash? Did your dog seem more quiet and satisfied for the rest of the day? How about the day after? Did you sleep better on the nights of your workout? Tracking these behavioral and conditional changes will allow you to customize the Cardio Canine program to achieve its best results.

Please feel free to contact me with questions and/or comments at [email protected] (please write CC in the subject line) and be sure to pick up next weeks’ paper for workout #2 and a look at human and canine nutrition.

Happy Tails!

Maris Bellis is an Animal Humane Officer and behaviorist for the American Humane Association’s Film and Television Unit who has worked locally on productions including “Hachiko” and “27 Dresses.” She is an experienced animal trainer, breeder, and veterinary technician, as well as a certified Yoga instructor who has studied nutrition, aerobic and strength conditioning. “Cardio Canine” (trademark pending) is a fusion of her skills, passions and commitment to human and animal well-being, as she seeks to integrate people and their animals in a creative, affordable and beneficial program.