Celebrity Dog Jogger Barry Karacostas shares his top tips for keeping your four-legged friend healthy and active…
What are your top tips for keeping your dog fit?
Keeping a dog fit runs pretty parallel to what keeps us fit. A healthy diet and a consistent healthy, active lifestyle is paramount.
What are the benefits of regularly exercising your dog?
Exercising your dog regularly has huge benefits both for them and their owner. A dog needs structured daily walks or runs. When making the big decision to add a new member to our lives, it’s important to be prepared, to put in the work needed to keep our new best friend happy and healthy. The benefits of regular exercise have both mental and physical benefits. A dog that leads a healthy and active lifestyle in an urban environment is happy and stress-free in the very restrictive city life.
Physically, dogs that exercise are much leaner, suppler and have a healthy appetite. They are generally less likely to have joint, muscle or respiratory problems and generally don’t see Mr. Vet often. Mentally, the benefits are just as many. Spending time with our dogs daily, builds a stronger bond and are more confident. They become responsive to our expectations and training is made so much easier when the pent-up energy has been worked off.
Should different breeds of dog follow different exercise programmes?
Exercise levels vary from breed to breed. Before exercising your dog, we always recommend a general health check with your vet first. Some dogs need more exercise than others and understanding your dog’s breed is very important when putting together a routine. Short nose breeds are generally the ones you need to monitor well. Over exertion can be very dangerous for them but also do not think that your working dog breed; Spaniel, Weimaraner, Labrador can do a marathon from the word go. Every dog just like us needs, to build up its fitness levels gradually. Signs to keep an eye out for are unwillingness to continue, heavy panting, dry mouth/nose or limping.
What are some of the ways your pet can exercise with you?
The methods to exercise with your dog are many:
Cycling – there are great tools (some pretty cool! like the harness and bungee lead for Bikejoring) can be found to ensure your dog’s safety when running alongside a bike.
Running cross country – this type of exercise is great, dogs love being off the beaten track and it is kinder to joints when clocking up the miles as the terrain is generally soft compound i.e grass, mud and leafy.
Paddle boarding/swimming – not for the faint hearted during the majority of the year in the UK but such a great alternative to a walk in the summer months. Swimming is a great way to exercise dogs that might be suffering with arthritis or hip dysplasia.
Long boarding – This is something I took up recently when having to train a couple of pooches to get used to skateboards and it is very cool (be prepared to be papped by Japanese tourists!)
What are your top tips regarding a dog’s diet?
A dog’s diet is very important. There are many different options out there from dry kibble, raw food and even home-cooked organic meals delivered to your door daily. The most important thing to remember when feeding your best friend is what you put in is what you get out. I firmly believe that we should look for the best option affordable to ourselves (do your research). Start with the recommended daily allowance and work from there. I am a firm believer that just like us each dog has its own metabolic rate so you should adjust the consumption accordingly. There are some great charts online to help you monitor your dog’s weight and how to check if it is over or underweight.
When is the best time to exercise with your dog?
My personal preferred time to do the main block of daily exercise for our dog, Bubbles is early morning. The crowds and distractions are considerably less in a busy city like London. Dogs love the fresh smells of what’s been going on nocturnally which is a great mental stimulant for them. If exercising your dog in the summer months, avoid the hottest times of the day.
Where are the best places to exercise in London?
I generally love the larger parks our Capital has to offer like Richmond Park, Hampstead Heath and Hyde Park. But there are also many hidden gems like the embankment walks and runs I do along the River Thames.
Are there any interactive games that can be exercise for both you and your dog?
Interactive games I love are tug of war, or if you are in the park for a circuit, dogs love to join in on a little interval training. Try finding an agility course near you – this is so much fun and believe me will have you working up a sweat too!
Tell us about your personalised doggie boot camp?
My Dog Boot Camps are aimed at dogs that need urgent attention to their physical and mental health to improve their wellbeing. We offer many bespoke services from weight loss programs, strength training for dogs that have been involved in an accident and are on their road to recovery, to supervised pack socialisation sessions for those many rescues that have been fortunate enough to find a good home but were brought up in isolated and violent environments.