Fitness, Personal Training, & Exercise Science

Want to Work Out With Your Dog? Try These Exercises

Did you know an estimated 53 percent of dogs are overweight or obese, according to the Associate for Pet Obesity Prevention? If Fido isn’t getting enough exercise, are you making time to work out, go to the gym, or get outside?

Finding time to exercise is probably one of the biggest barriers to achieving health and fitness goals, but what if you could work out with your dog?

Cue happy barking, sloppy tongue, and tail wagging—because you can. Give Fido the exercise he needs, and strengthen your heart, lungs, and muscles at the same time.

Before you go

If your dog hasn’t been getting exercise on a regular basis, you can’t expect Phoebe to crush a five-mile run through the neighborhood on day one. Start small and gradually increase the amount of time you work out with your dog from week to week.

  • Puppies & breeds. Keep in mind that puppies are still growing and don’t have bones as strong as an adult dog, dogs with short legs won’t need to exercise as much as bigger dogs, and flat-nosed dogs typically breathe a lot heavier after a small amount of exercise than other breeds.
  • Warm up. When you are ready to work out with your dog, start with an easy five minutes of walking or casual game of fetch before you get down to business.

Ready to work out with your dog? Give these dog-friendly workouts a try:

1. Walk/Run

It’s the easiest way to elevate your heart rate, reach that 10,000 steps a day, burn calories, and work out with your dog. If you live in a walkable neighborhood, leash your dog and head out the door. If you don’t, find a dog-friendly park or trail nearby, hop in the car, and go. If your dog isn’t used to being on a leash, you’ll need to practice running and walking together.

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2. Yoga

Yoga with your dog is another way you can exercise together. And it actually has a name: Doga.

When yoga instructor Suzi Teitelman practiced yoga at home, her cocker spaniel was curious. Her dog would get on the mat and copy some of the poses. This sparked the idea for Teitelman to create Doga.

Teitelman’s site with free Doga videos will show you how to perform poses like:

  • Forward Bend
  • Heart and Hound
  • Seated Bridge
  • Downward Dog

3. Fetch + Run

You’ve probably played fetch with your dog, but that usually means you’re standing around or sitting. You throw the ball, wait for your dog to fetch it, and repeat. It’s a great workout for your dog, but you’re not moving around much.

How do you turn it into a workout for both of you? It’s easy: Run, fetch, run.

Throw the ball. While your dog chases it, sprint away from where you were standing until your dog reaches the ball. When your dog discovers your new location and returns the ball: Throw, run, repeat.

4. Fetch + HIIT

Here’s another way to turn a game of fetch into a workout for both of you. Combine fetch with high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

It’s a training strategy where you exercise vigorously for a short period of time, rest briefly, and repeat. Plus, research shows, it’s an effective way to shred fat and burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time.

Here’s how Fetch + HIIT works.

  • Go to a park where you can play fetch with your dog.
  • Warm up with walking or easy jogging.
  • Play fetch and throw the ball for your dog to retrieve.
  • As soon as the ball leaves your hand and your dog takes off, complete as many burpees as you can, until your dog returns with the ball.
  • Rest for 30 seconds after your dog returns. Throw the ball and repeat.

Note: You can substitute burpees with any bodyweight exercise you’d like. Try jumping jacks, push-ups, jump squats, planks, jumping rope, or crunches—or complete an entire circuit while you play fetch with your dog.

Happiness = Working Out With Your Dog

When you work out with your dog, both of you will reap the benefits of physical activity that can help with weight management, improve your cardiovascular system, and strengthen your bones and muscles. You’ll also build that bond between you and your dog. Woof!

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