By Jennifer Kelly Geddes

Your pooch needs a walk and you want to slim down and get in shape, so put the two together this fall for a smart, fun workout. Not only is dog walking good exercise for both of you, but it can also improve your dog’s behavior. Pets who don’t have the chance to burn enough energy may end up chewing your shoes and couch out of boredom (yikes!). Here, the best tips for getting fit with your dog:

Feet first: Nix the flip-flops and clogs and lace up proper shoes before heading out. Your dog may sprint or dart to the side, so having good foot support will help keep you stable.

Start slow: Check with your vet to see how often and how far your dog should be walked (if you’re also new to exercise, be in touch with your doctor, too). Go at a slow to medium pace at first and keep tabs on your pup’s reactions (rapid panting and staggering mean stop!).

Carry water: A bottle for yourself is a good idea, but don’t forget H20 for your pooch on warm days. Choose a specially made one (lightweight, plastic) with a small trough in the front.

Vary the walk: Change up your routine so you’ll both be inspired and stimulated. On nicer days, pick a longer, hillier climb; rainy days can be a shorter route that’s close to home. Don’t push yourself or your dog too much (shorter walks a couple of times a day are fine).

Bring a friend: A canine one, that is! Another dog may entice yours to walk faster and farther. Check with your vet to find a local dog group or visit a nearby dog park and make some pals for your pooch.

Tote toys: Tired of just trotting along? Find a quiet, grassy area where dogs are allowed off leash and pull out a tennis ball or Frisbee. A game of fetch is excellent exercise to help you get in shape — and you’ll be squatting and stretching to retrieve the toys, too.

By Jennifer Kelly Geddes for Discover and Play (

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