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ith most exercise programs, while his person works out, a dog stays home alone, count- ing squirrels outside the window and wishing Animal Planet wasn’t a rerun. How about bringing some of that exer- cise home so the pet gets fit, too? John E. Mayer, Ph.D., a Chicago clinical psychologist and author of Fam- ily Fit, maintains that, “Fitness works best as a group event, including the family dog. They love to participate in many things, so be creative. Try swim- ming, touch football, jumping rope, rollerblading, tag or hide-and-seek.” Diane Tegethoff Meadows and Susan Riches, Ph.D., each accepted a challenge to exercise with their dogs 30 minutes a day for 30 days. “I walk my three Scotties every morning any- way, so adding minutes was easy,” says Meadows, a retired senior paralegal in Bulverde, Texas. “One of them is in charge of choosing the route, and we seldom go the same way two days in a row.” Riches, a retired Fort Lewis College professor and archaeologist, in Durango, Colorado, doesn’t let inclement weather


interfere. “Inside, we play fetch up and down the stairs,” she says. “I hide treats for tracking games of ‘find it.’” The dogs also like to jump through hoops. “The Scottie and Westie go at it for 30 min- utes; the Maltese stops after 15.” Jeff Lutton, a Dogtopia dog day- care/boarding franchisee in Alexandria, Virginia, conducts a popular running club. “On Sunday mornings we have about 15 people that run with their dogs. My golden retriever used to run six miles, but since she’s 9 now, we’ve cut back to three.” “Treibball [TRY-ball] is herding without sheep, soccer without feet,” ex- plains Dianna L. Stearns, president of the American Treibball Association, based in Northglenn, Colorado. “All you need is Pilates balls, a target stick for point- ing, a signal clicker and treats. It’s a fun, problem-solving game for all involved.” The idea is for the dog to direct rub- ber balls into a goal with its nose, shoul- der and/or paws—eventually, as many as eight balls in 10 minutes. Treibball can be played in group classes or competitions or at home using a kiddie soccer goal.


People & Pets Play Well Together by Sandra Murphy


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