Gear up to get fit with your dog
Ever feel a twinge of guilt training in the great outdoors while your dog is stuck at home? With the right equipment, you can just take him with you. "Check in with your vet first to make sure your dog is up to the activity you have in mind," said Charlotte Reed, a pet expert in New York City, who has been working with dogs for 16 years. Here are her top gear picks to help your canine hit the road, water or trails.
Cardio Canine ($49.95, CardioCanine.com) or The Buddy System (starts at $20, Buddysys.com)
Both leashes have belts that go around your waist, leaving your hands free and your arms balanced. The other advantage over regular leashes: Now anchored to your middle, your dog can't pull you as easily out of your rhythm, Reed said. Cardio Canine includes pockets for a water bottle and keys. The Buddy System comes in two sizes, one for dogs that weigh more than 20 pounds and one for those weighing less.
The Springer ($89, SpringerAmerica.com)
Invented in Norway, this nifty bike attachment for a leash absorbs most of your dog's pulling so you won't lose your balance. It also has a safety release that quickly frees your dog in an emergency. "I'd recommend this for country roads and quiet streets, where traffic is light and slow," Reed said.
Ruffwear's BarknBoots Grip Trex Boots ($64.95, Ruffwear.com)
Did you know Vibrams, those rubber shoes with toes, were originally designed for rock climbers? Well, meet the dog version. Made with the same sole as Vibrams, these little sneakers protect paws and provide extra traction. Available in size XXS to XL.
Dockdogs Pipeline Series Watersuits ($34.95, DogsNiteOut.com)
Does your canine love the water except when it's cold? These wetsuits, which are 100-percent neoprene, will keep him warm. They're available in sizes medium to extra large and come in several colors.
For swimmers and sailors
Ruffwear's Big Eddy Float Coat ($74.95, Ruffwear.com)
Whether your dog is a strong swimmer or not, a life preserver jacket is always a good idea, said Reed. This one will comfortably fit over a wetsuit, in case you live near cold water. It also has 3M Scotchlite reflective trim to make your pooch more visible in fading light.
Premier's Easy Walk Harness ($26.99, Premier.com)
The unique chest attachment makes it easier to lead your dog, because it rests on the breastplate rather than across his throat. The result? You're not pulling him by the neck -- or choking him.
For after-hours exercisers
Bright Steps Bright Collars (start at $29.95, Fab4Pets.com) and Reflective Leg Bands ($9.95, Fab4Pets.com)
The biggest hazard for dogs at night: cars. On moving limbs, these leg bands are more likely to catch motorists' eyes; the collar, placed at a higher place, also helps, Reed said. Both products are available for small, medium and large dogs.
For rookies or when it's hot
Planet Petco's Luv Gear TempAlert apparel (starts at $19.95, Petco.com)
Using technology originally designed for babies, this line of pet gear has heat sensors that will alert you when your pooch's temperature hits that dangerous 100 degree-mark (at 105 degrees Fahrenheit, he's at risk for heat exhaustion or stroke.) In summer, you'll probably want the harness rather than the extra layer of a tank dress or T-shirt.
A spray bottle
When a dog is panting, he may not drink water. That's why it's better to bring a spritzer instead of a regular water bottle. "You can spray his coat and help him cool down if he won't drink," Reed said.