Dog Exercise: 7 Ways To Take It To The Next Level


Does Fido need to strengthen his core? Is your workout time with your dog becoming routine and dull? Is walking your dog just not enough to get you or your dog in the kind of shape you want to be in? In recent studies by the Journal of Physical Activity dog owners that workout with their dogs increase their weekly minutes by 34 percent.

“It really depends on the breed and the fitness level of the dog,” says Jackie Epping, a public health scientist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “I know people who run several miles a day with their dog, and their dog does just fine. Some breeds, such as dogs in the working group, tend to need more exercise generally. But the key is to know your particular dog’s limitations.”

So let’s take it to a new level for both you and your dog. Here are some great ways to workout with your dog:

Tugging Games are a favorite amount larger dogs and it really works their jaw, neck and back muscles. It will help improve your with arm and back strength. It also activates the core muscles in both you and your dog.

Swimming in a lake or ocean can be a great workout for your dog. Many dogs enjoy the water but many times without their owners. Maybe it’s time both worked together. Swimming works different muscles then running and has less impact on the joints.  Swimming works more of the upper body in humans and can help work muscles in your pet that are not commonly used in walking or running.

Running together is an obvious choice for getting both of you and your dog in better shape. It burns far more calories than walking and is physically more demanding. Dogs usually can’t go for real long runs and just like their owners they need to hydrate. But running with your dog can be a great workout if done properly but you should research your breed to see what distance your dog can handle. Also, make sure Fido knows which way you want to turn so the two of you don’t fall all over each other.

A simple game of fetch with you and your dog running together after a Frisbee is a great way to do wind sprints that help build your cardiovascular system and increase your leg speed.  You want to make your throws far enough to get a good dash in but not so far that you get winded and stop.

Extended hikes or walks in the woods are great exercise. If the terrain is hilly, that is even better. Hikes that extend several hours are a great workout for both you and your dog. You do need to watch out for ticks and jagged rocks that can cut your dog’s paws.  But unlike a walk in the park, these walks burn a lot more calories. Snacks are also a good idea for this activity since it tends to last a long time. It is ideal for working leg, calf and foot muscles.

Biking with your dog helps increases the dogs speed and thereby increasing leg strength and cardiovascular endurance. It is recommended that you make sure your pet knows to stay along-side your bike or behind you. Some bike path areas require a lease on all dogs and this can be a little tricky but with practice is can be done successfully.

Cross-Country skiing in the winter is a good workout for both owner and pet. Running in the snow is great for dogs that can tolerate the cold. The amount of calories this activity burns is amazing and should help with the mood of your dog as well. You should be careful not to expose your dogs feet outdoor for too long depending on the temperature.

“If you want to exercise with your dog, research the breeds,” Epping adds. “And don’t forget, as many as 30% of dogs in animal shelters are purebreds, so consider adopting a dog from a shelter. If you get a dog that’s a mix, your vet can probably tell you what breeds are in the dog, and then you can make a decision about exercise and duration.”