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Walk Your Dog to Weight Loss

6 steps to start a fitness regimen that will keep you — and your pet — healthy and fit

Walk this way. Many dogs on leash pull because they haven't been taught to walk politely. If you can afford it, get a trainer to work with you one-on-one to teach your dog to walk without pulling. A couple of private lessons are a good investment in a well-mannered dog, and so is a training class if your dog needs more than a brushup. If your dog is aggressive to other dogs or people, ask your veterinarian for a referral to a dog trainer or behaviorist who can help you decide if your dog can be made safe in public, and help you with a training plan to make that happen.

Be safe and responsible. Walk with reflective gear on you and your pet, and choose established neighborhoods with sidewalks for safety. Country roads may be pretty, but free roaming and overprotective farm dogs and fast-moving vehicles on two-lane roads make for higher risk. Carry ID, a mobile phone and, of course, pickup bags. It's just plain rude not to pick up after your dog.

Keep at it. Begin with short distances and then build up. Walking every day is best — your dog will agree — but do what you can and build on your successes. Keep track of your walks, so you can monitor your progress and appreciate how far you've come along the road to fitness for you and your pooch.

Dr. Marty Becker, "America's Veterinarian," is the resident veterinarian for Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. He also is the co-author, along with Dr. Robert Kushner, of Fitness Unleashed: A Dog and Owner's Guide to Losing Weight and Gaining Health Together. Find him in the AARPPetPals forum of AARP.org.

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