Achieving Balance and Harmony

DOG TRAINING

Pets Help Us Lose More Weight

By Jon Bastian

Cesar emphasizes the importance of exercise for dogs, with Mastering the Walk being a key part of his path to canine fulfillment—but there’s another beneficiary of all that walking, and it’s at the other end of the leash.

According to the Mayo Clinic, not only is walking a wonderful low-impact exercise that can help you manage your weight, it has other benefits including lowering “bad” and raising “good” cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes, and improving your mood.

Many dog owners have discovered this already. According to a recent Mars Petcare Pet Owner Survey, a majority of pet owners would rather exercise with their pet instead of alone. This survey also reports that two thirds of pet owners obtained their pet because they believe that having one supports their well-being.

Unfortunately, many owners do not walk their dogs as often as they should because they have issues with controlling them. This leads to a vicious cycle – a dog that is not walked enough builds up excess energy and become less controllable; the owner skips more walks because the dog is uncontrollable, and so on. Cesar advises, “Make sure you are communicating a message that says, 'I am the pack leader!' Keep your head up and your shoulders back. Think positive, and envision the walk going well. You might be surprised at the results.” What’s good for your dog is good for you, and the Mayo Clinic agrees. “Using the correct posture and movements is essential.”

So is using the right tools. You should wear shoes with a firm heel and thick, flexible soles, and dress in loose-fitting, comfortable clothes. Proper leash length and tension are very important, short but slack being the best option. “Flexi-leashes and other longer leashes make it harder for you to communicate with your dog,” says Cesar. “But, don't forget, it's also important to keep the leash loose. If you make a correction, it should be quick, and then the leash should be returned to the relaxed state.”

The leash and collar should be properly positioned at the top of the neck and not at the shoulders, where a dog is strongest. “You're actually helping your dog to pull you around if you have the collar placed there,” Cesar explains. “Instead, position it on the upper neck, which is the most sensitive area. If you're having trouble keeping the collar in the correct spot, check out the Illusion Collar, which is designed to keep (it) from slipping.” Avoid harnesses, because these are designed for – and inspire – pulling. Unless you’re leading a team of sled-dogs, you have no reason to use a harness for the walk.

With proper attitude and preparation, your daily walks with your dog can provide immense health and mental benefits for both of you, as well as an opportunity to socialize with your dog-walking neighbors, expanding your pack and shrinking your waistline at the same time. Exercise is important, and your dog can be your best friend in inspiring workouts that are low-impact, fun and healthy. It’s easy to turn that expensive workout machine into a coat-rack in the corner, but your dog needs you several times every day, and will inspire you when it’s time to get out, get around, and get fit.

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