My kids have long begged for a dog, but because he is a reluctant animal person, my husband has resisted the idea for several years. Now that our kids are getting older and accepting more responsibilities, we recently revisited the topic and surprised them with a jumping, licking, nipping chocolate Labrador.
After the initial love affair abated, reality has set in and we have become intimately acquainted with the often arduous tasks associated with dog ownership. My husband will complain that he is the only one who has the pleasure of picking up after the puppy’s elimination (he only has the morning shift), and the kids are tiring of the dog’s rambunctious escapades while they try to eat breakfast in peace. I never realized just how much exercise one hyper, wiry four-legged creature requires. Skipping a walk is just not a possibility with a dog living under your roof.
The Perils of Owning a Dog
We have quickly learned that leaving Legos on the floor is no longer an option. Reminiscent of toddler days, all chokeable items must be out of the “baby’s” reach. A puppy is another growing mouth to feed. While he doesn’t require three square meals, the dog does eat a rather expensive, high-quality, grain-free dog food twice a day. The mess from two children pales in comparison to the destruction the dog can do in minutes upon returning from outside. Muddy paws, slobbery jaws, and puppy teething tactics have turned my living room into a canine warzone.
The Fitness Perks of Dog Ownership
It goes without saying that my kids are learning the responsibility of helping care for another living creature. Despite the amount of work my husband and I have to invest in the dog daily, we strongly feel we are giving our children the gift of animal companionship and compassion, and the kids help out with feedings and taking the dog out to go potty.
Our now fifty pound bouncing fur ball of commotion demands exercise; he will not be denied his leash. The puppy is intolerable to be around—barking, nipping, and chewing— if he doesn’t run several times daily. The kids and I have been forced to take several breaks from our homeschool routine to periodically run him through our development (this has actually increased their attention and performance academically). Sometimes they will ride their bikes while I run the dog behind them. Other times, the kids chase after the dog on foot. On weekends, my husband scoots along on a skateboard while the dog runs at his side, and the kids pedal scooters or Ripstiks.
All around, doggy ownership has increased our already high activity level to heights we never imagined. This has been a wonderful bonus. While not all dogs are excessively energetic requiring high intensity exercise, most breeds thrive with brisk walking daily. If you have the time to devote to a dog, exercising the new addition to your family will benefit both you and your four-legged training partner.
We were warned that Labradors are a high energy breed, and now we are certain we have acquired the ultra endurance model. I have always considered our family exceptionally physically active, but with the addition of a dog to the family, we are redefining what “active” constitutes. Can a dog help increase your fitness level? I do believe mine has been taken to a different dimension. What is your experience?