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Keep Fit With Your Dog While Traveling

I happily admit that my favorite travel mates are my dogs, Chipper and Cleo. All I have to say is, “Do you want to go….” and before I can finish my sentence, they are prancing and heading for their leashes. They are always ready to sniff out new places.

We have boarded pet airlines to make trips across the country and hopped in my SUV to travel throughout the West. We look forward to flying soon on Pet Airways to visit more pet-friendly destinations coast to coast.

But as many of you realize, healthy habits – like eating nutritious foods or daily workouts – can sometimes fall by the wayside when you embark on a trip. It doesn’t have to be this way. You and your dog can stay fit and eat smart during your travels.

Let me share some “keep fit” tips I’ve learned during my recent travels with my dogs that have included book tours and pet-welcoming speaking engagements from California to New York:

  • Pack a measuring cup and stick with portions best suited to meet your dog’s age, activity level and health condition.
  • Select hotels that offer mini-refrigerators and microwaves so that you can stretch a meal into two for yourself. Choose meals offering steamed vegetables, grilled or broiled meats and drink plenty of water.
  • Resist rewarding yourself with high-calorie desserts. Treat your sweet tooth to slimmer choices like sorbet or air-popped popcorn.
  • Heap on praise – with just a dash of treats – when your dog performs a trick or behaves nicely. Limit treats to no more than 10 percent of your dog’s caloric needs.
  • Bring a workout outfit and shoes made for walking and running. Kick off each morning with a brisk walk with your dog that lasts at least 30 minutes.
  • Work different muscles – including your heart – by varying the pace of the walk. Include short sprints and skipping sideways. You will discover that your dog will be more focused on you than chase a squirrel or other distractions.
  • Teach your dog to perform a quick “sit-down” maneuver while you do some pushups and sit-ups in your hotel room to keep your abs tones.
  • Finish each day with a few yoga poses, remembering to breathe in from your diaphragm and breathe out deeply through your mouth. The classic canine “play bow” (head lowered, front legs stretched out front and rear end hoisted air) is a welcoming posture when a dog meets another dog. It is also the same pose people perform in yoga that is aptly called downward facing dog.

Final advice: Places across the country are starting to recognize that dogs do make great workout buddies and are starting to offer classes. I attended a session in San Diego with my dog, Chipper that is called Leash Your Fitness. I also recently toured a large dog fitness training center in Fredericksburg, Va. Called Pup’n Iron. Wherever you travel with your dog, remember to workout at least 30 minutes a day. You will discover a healthy new meaning for the expression, dog tired.

Arden Moore is a pet expert, best-selling author and radio show host who travels all over North America.
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