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Press Office

24th January 2011

January Dog-tox

Research from Petplan shows that a dog really is a man’s best friend and fitness trainer

Playing ball with your dog

With the prospect of 50 per cent of us set to give up on our regular exercise regime within less than two months of starting*, and at a time when new year's resolutions are starting to wane, Petplan, the UK's favourite pet insurer, is launching a keep fit guide to help pet owners stay fit and healthy. Instead of wasting pounds on a gym membership pet owners can lose pounds with the help of their own pooch.

Petplan's specially designed fitness regime means that man's best friend can become both a motivator and a companion to help ensure that your fitness plan keeps going all year long. With almost a quarter of Brits saying that their preferred running companion would be their pet dog and nearly 15 per cent claimed that during the dark winter months they feel too nervous to run alone – a dog will both protect and put you through your paces.

Playing ball with your dog

Further research shows that 60 per cent of us would run more if they have a companion. Brian Faulkner, Petplan's Vet of the Year commented, "Combining exercising your dog whilst giving yourself a thorough workout at the same time is a great way for people with restricted time to get fit. Most breeds of dog need daily exercise, and many are built to run and play, so keeping up with your pet can drive you on and make the thought of running outside less daunting."

Brian added: "We all know that dogs love to run, making them the perfect running companion. Owning a dog not only makes for a happy home but is a good a way to encourage the whole family to get active."

Alison Andrew, Petplan Head of Marketing commented: "The average cost of a monthly gym membership is £31* which works out at £372 a year. For a family with two teenage children that could be as much as £1,488. However with thousands of dogs across the UK already needing to be rehomed this year, helping you get fit and healthy could be the perfect excuse to get a great new addition to the family, whilst also giving these dogs a second chance at a happy home."

In recent months, celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman and Amanda Seyfried have all been seen exercising with their pets, encouraging a trend for other pet owners to get outside and active.

Walking your dog

Petplan has been working with personal trainer, Mickey Cunningham from Body Studio gym to create some exercises you can do specifically with your dog – both you and your dog will get the blood pumping and sweat flowing.

Top Dog Exercises from Mickey

  1. Canine cross-country – good exercise for the dog and high impact cardiovascular activity for owner. Set yourself realistic targets and try and improve your speed on a weekly basis by timing yourselves.
    Training Tip: Try to run for five minutes, sprint for two minutes, run for five minutes, sprint for two minutes. Repeat (depending on your physical ability). Remember to always warm up and cool down.
  2. Agility obstacle course – helps strengthen and maintain dog agility whilst also serving as an aerobic workout due to stopping, starting, bending and stretching at the various obstacles for owner. The local playground once the kids have gone home would be the perfect course to offer good variety, again time yourself to keep it challenging.
  3. Arm exercises – throwing a frisbee or ball for your dog is a great way to help tone your arms; playing tug of war with your dog is an excellent way to stretch your biceps before or after a workout.
    Training Tip: Do ten repetitions on your right arm and then ten on your left. Pause for a few seconds and repeat (depending on your physical ability).
  4. Working Trials – get fit and an obedient dog at the same time! This civilian equivalent of police dog work includes obedience, control, agility and fitness. It is a great cardiovascular workout, and the agility training helps keep your body supple.
    Training Tip: Set up a course using cones or something similar and then take a 30 second break between trials and repeating 10 times.

Weekly Training Programme

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Canine cross-country Agility Obstacle course Walk Canine cross-country Agility Obstacle course Working Trials Walk
Arm exercises Rest Walk Working Trials Arm exercises Rest Walk

Personal trainer Mickey Cunningham from Body Studio commented: "Exercising with a canine companion such as your dog can often have great results. Not only will your pet provide the motivation to take them for their daily exercise, but they'll also help you get into a routine, which will help shed those stubborn pounds."

Notes to editors

Petplan is the largest pet insurance provider in the world, offering comprehensive lifetime pet insurance cover for dogs, cats and rabbits.

Established more than 30 years ago, it is part of Allianz Insurance, one of the largest general insurers in the UK.

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