Should Your Dog Join a Health Club?

By PetMD Editorial on May 19, 2011

If you are the typical full-time worker, you spend about 60 hours each week working, getting ready to work, and traveling to and from work. If you sleep a reasonable amount, there’s another 42-56 hours. That leaves roughly 52 hours to do everything else, including walking and exercising your dog (and yourself). Needless to say, it can be a challenge to make the time to stay physically fit, but with the rising numbers of canine and human obesity, it might be time to think seriously about joining a gym -- a pet gym. 

Where Can You Find an Exercise Facility for Your Dog?

It will depend on where you live, but the increased need for a safe and comfortable exercise facility is driving the gradual growth of this business. If you live in an urban area, you will very likely be able to find a pet gym close to home. If you live in a suburban or more rural area, you will probably need to get in the car and travel a bit. There is also the option of enrolling your dog in a day class, so that he is getting his exercise while you are at work. For example, there are dog day care facilities that are specifically designed for group activities like walking, running and swimming. Some facilities are equipped with specialized swim centers to cater to dogs that love to swim or that don’t get the chance to do so on a regular basis. This form of exercise is not only fun for dogs, but is a perfect activity for older dogs, obese dogs, and dogs that have suffered previous injuries. The buoyancy of the water relieves the stress on arthritic joints as well as relieving pressure on the joints and bones due to excess weight. Even non-swimming breeds, like bulldogs and greyhounds, can take part as long as they are outfitted with a swim vest to hold their heads above water.  

A quick online search using your favorite search engine will turn up exercise centers in your area; some may be even closer than you think. In addition, check your local newspapers and community magazines for ads, and search your community phone books under the pet services classification.

Your veterinarian’s office is also a great source of information for recommended doggie day care centers. Pet trainers and local pet stores often will be familiar with some of the reputable services that are available as well. It might not hurt to ask around at the people gyms too -- people who like to stay fit also tend to keep their pets fit too.

What You Should Look For in an Exercise Facility

Whether it is a facility that is made only for exercise, or it is a dog day care that includes a daily schedule for exercise, make sure to ask for a tour of the facility before you make a commitment to use their services. Get a good look at the equipment, the yards, the kennels, and any other place your dog will be spending time. Make sure that the people running the facility are accredited for recognizing and treating emergencies in animals and that they are very familiar with the physiology of a dog.

Are There Any Other Options?

If you cannot find an exercise facility in your area, you may consider creating your own exercise space. A treadmill (designed either for people or pets) is a perfect way to ensure that your dog is getting his daily walk, even when there are rainy, cold, or sweltering conditions that prevent outdoor exercise. There are also private dog walking and pet sitting services, many of whom offer extra playtime and walking during the day for dogs. Sitters and walkers, if requested to, can throw balls, play with rope toys, and take active pets for long runs.

Image: Taro the Shiba Inu / via Flickr

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