According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults and 17 percent of children in the United States are overweight. The statistics for dogs — and cats — aren’t good either. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention finds that 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats are overweight or obese.
Being overweight or obese — whether it’s you or your pet — can lead to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. Before you exercise with your dog, talk to his veterinarian. Certain exercises, such as running or even jogging, are not recommended for puppies whose bones haven’t finished growing and for some short-legged and short-nosed breeds. Short-legged dogs don’t need as much walking as larger dogs, and flat-nosed dogs can have trouble catching their breath.
Here are a few tips on how you and your dog can exercise together:
- 1. Take a hike
- 2. Cut back on the treats
- 3. Visit the dog park
- 4. Go for a swim
- 5. Jog or run
- 6. Tug-of-war
- 7. Play catch
- 8. On rainy days
- 9. Sign up for an exercise class
- 10. Resistance walk
- How To Exercise Your Dog Indoors
- 1. Doga
- The Best Ways to Exercise With Your Dog
- Warm Weather Safety Tips
- Now for the Fun Stuff: Exercises You Can do With Your Pet
- Workouts for You and Your Dog
- Dog Yoga
- Outdoor Sports With Your Dog
- Dogs Need Exercise, Too!
- The Bottom Line
- Safety Tips For Working Out With Your Dog
1. Take a hike
Well, a hike is a great idea, but if you are not used to strenuous exercise, start with a walk, and build from there. Many of us are pressed for time. So, if you are running late in the mornings, try to get up just a bit early — if possible. You can take a 10 minute walk with your dog. If your schedule allows it, try to get in three walks a day, and make one at least 20 minutes.
2. Cut back on the treats
Instead of rewarding your dog with treats, give him attention. Dogs love interacting. If you want to give your dog a treat, break it in half and put the other half away for another day. Same goes with treats for you — eat half today and the other half tomorrow. This way you won’t feel deprived.
3. Visit the dog park
If possible, walk to the dog park. When you get there, toss a ball around with your dog. Both of you will get some exercise.
4. Go for a swim
Swimming is a low-impact exercise that you and your dog can do.
5. Jog or run
Find a track that welcomes dogs and make sure your have comfortable running shoes. That is all you need for this cardio workout. Bring a water bottle and foldable bowl so you and your dog can rehydrate.
Play a game of tug-of-war with your dog. It can help build your upper body strength and your dog will enjoy spending time playing with you.
7. Play catch
Whether it’s a ball, a Frisbee, or his favorite toy, go outside and play a game of catch.
8. On rainy days
If you have stairs in your apartment building or in your home, go up and down a few flights (remember to start slow). If you have a treadmill in your home, you and your dog can use that too.
9. Sign up for an exercise class
You and your dog can take agility classes or even “doga,” a form of yoga designed for the both of you.
10. Resistance walk
This is great for all kinds of weather. Try to walk your dog in the snow, on the sand, in shallow water on the beach, or on a leaf-filled trail.
How To Exercise Your Dog Indoors
Note: Before trying any of these exercise techniques, confirm with your vet that your dog is healthy enough. Also note that some breeds, for example those with short legs, may not be well-suited for activites that involve going up and down steps or obstacles.
Dogs need their daily exercise, and even things like it being too cold or hot outside or the days getting shorter shouldn’t get in the way. One of the most important parts of Cesar’s teachings is that you need to walk your dog every day, several times a day no matter what the weather is like.
However, if you absolutely cannot take your dog out because it’s unsafe, here are some tips on how to work out your dog’s body and mind indoors. Remember, though, that our dogs need limitations, meaning that you control when and for how long they engage in indoor play. Substituting other activities for the walk for too long and too often may lead to your dog developing unhealthy obsessions.
Run Your Dog Up and Down the Stairs
Using the stairs is a great way to tire out your dog. The steps add an additional challenge to a dog’s workout, as they engage different muscles than those used on a regular walk or run and add an extra level of difficulty with the change in elevation. Stand at the top of the stairs and throw a toy down to your dog. When your dog grabs the toy, call his name and have him bring the toy to you. After several rounds of this, he’ll be winded.
Set Up Obstacle Courses
Whenever Cesar enters someone’s house on the show, he looks around for things in the environment that can be repurposed to help the dog. Like using that old hula hoop for him to leap through or using cushions to create a tunnel for him to navigate. Map everything out and lead your dog through the various obstacles. This game will challenge your dog both mentally and physically.
Make Your Dog Work For its Treats
Take a variety of your dog’s favorite treats and hide the around the house – behind doors, under tables, underneath rugs, etc. Your dog will be so busy tracking down his treats that he’ll physically tire out in the process. Treat dispensing toys are another great way to keep your dog busy and engage them physically as they push around their toys and try to get to the food inside.
Keep away and fetch
Engage your dog in a good old fashioned game of fetch and keep away. These games keep your dog engaged, active, and help to release pent up energy.
Put your dog in the car (always remember to use a car restraint!) and head over to the nearest pet store. Walk your dog through the aisles, let him try out toys and sniff around.
Get Your Dog On the Treadmill
A treadmill is a great way to get your dog a dose of healthy indoor exercise. First, allow your dog to get comfortable with the sight and sound of a running treadmill. Next, place your dog on the treadmill and give him a treat. Turn the treadmill on the lowest speed. Give him treats to keep him on the treadmill. You may use the dog’s leash as an aid but never tie your dog to the treadmill. Also, standing in front of the treadmill and rewarding him with treats for walking might make your dog feel more comfortable. Once your dog is adjusted, you can gradually increase the speed to provide a more challenging workout.
Tug of War—But Be Aware of the Risks
With the amount of ropes and toys available that encourage tug of war, it’s not surprising that so many dog owners play this game with their dog. However, you need to be aware of the risk. It’s a game that brings out the predator in your dog and can be unhealthy for your relationship if you don’t have trust and respect to begin with. You need to have control over your dog’s power and instincts before you can engage in a healthy game of tug of war with them.
What’s your dog’s favorite indoor exercise? Tell us all about it in the comments.
As many dog-owners will know, a canine buddy can make keeping active easy, what with all the regular walks.
But trainer and national wrestling champion Keith McNiven, owner of Right Path Fitness, thinks it doesn’t have to end there – why not introduce some home workout routines roping in your pooch as your personal trainer? (Yep, it does sound a little barking, we know!)
“As well as these exercises keeping you and your pet fit and healthy, it gives you a further opportunity to bond. Just like having a spotter to motivate you into that last squat, your pet can give you the wilfulness to keep off those extra pounds,” says Keith.
Barking orders! (Thinkstock/PA)
Ready to get a wag-gle on? Here, Keith outlines 5 exercises you can do at home with your pooch…
(Right Path Fitness/PA)
“Doga takes downward-dog to the next level. As one of the more relaxed exercises, it works on the natural symbiotic relationship you have with your pet.”
How to do it: While performing the different poses, allow your pet to wander freely, as the ‘doga’ magic will work on both you and your pet, whether your pet is taking part in the poses or not. Dogs in particular copy their human’s breathing habits, similar to children. You’ll know if your pet is completely relaxed if it falls asleep on the mat next to you!
2. Plank and press the puppy
(Right Path Fitness/PA)
“How big or small your pet is (and how likely they are to sit still!) will determine how easy or difficult this one may be. However, it will tone up your biceps, triceps and stomach muscles, and your puppy will enjoy the ride too!”
How to do it: Lay front down on the floor and ask your pet to sit on your back (or ask someone else to put them there). Set your arms shoulder width apart, palms facing the floor, then push your body up off the floor. If you’re struggling, you can keep your knees down.
3. Waggin’ sit-ups
(Right Path Fitness/PA)
“This exercise is a great bonding experience for both you and your dog. They will be the motivation for you to continue, just as good as having a friend in your ear telling you to carry on.”
How to do it: Lie on your back with your arms crossed over your chest, keeping your knees slightly bent. Ask your pet to come to you, and rest their paws on your feet. Raise your upper body off the floor by flexing your abdominal muscles. Touch your elbows to your thighs and repeat.
4. Reverse lunges with a twist
(Right Path Fitness/PA)
“It’s time to work while looking at your pet’s beautiful face. If your pet knows any tricks, this is a great movement to incorporate them, or a fantastic opportunity to teach them.”
How to do it: Make sure your pet is facing you. Take one large step backward and lower your hips until your front thigh is parallel to the floor, and your front knee is directly over your front ankle. Use your front leg to push your body backward. Now, before lunging with the opposite side, get your pet to perform a trick, whether that be shaking their paw, or asking them to roll over, it gives you both intermittent breaks between commands.
5. Squat and sit
(Right Path Fitness/PA)
“It’s just like sitting with them on the couch. Except a fair bit more work… The closeness between the two of you during this episode will bring you closer together (literally) and will create a strong bonding experience.”
How to do it: Lean against the wall in a squat position, and either pick your pet up or get them to do some extra work and ask them to jump up. Slowly move your body up and down the wall, holding for 10 second intervals in between.
The Best Ways to Exercise With Your Dog
Most activities are better with a four-legged friend. And, chances are, your pup is just bubbling with excitement to get moving with you. Pets are excellent motivators; your dog will almost always be thrilled to go for a run: rain, shine, or after a bad day at work. As an added bonus, that exercise is as great for your pet as it is for you. Thats why Aaptiv’s breaking down the best ways to exercise with your dog.
Warm Weather Safety Tips
When you know it’s going to be really warm, exercise either early in the morning or in the evening. You’ll avoid the brunt of the heat at those times. “Remember, dogs don’t sweat like we do. They sweat through their paws,” says Sandra Hudson, owner and practitioner at Canine Rehabilitation and Conditioning Center in Austin, Texas. “If possible, do your exercising in or near water.” Being able to splash around will help your pup stay cool.
For those of you with white-haired dogs are spending time outside, keep an eye out for sunburn. Along with sunburn, pets with white ears “are more susceptible to skin cancer,” according to The Humane Society of the United States.
Brachycephalic, or the flat-faced dog breeds, may also struggle in the heat and humidity. “Keep them out of the heat as much as possible,” says Hudson.
More summertime tips:
- Always carry water, and if possible, pick a route that’s shaded.
- If your pet starts showing signs of heatstroke, take them to a veterinarian immediately.
- Careful of hot pavement—it can burn paws.
- Try to avoid the temptation to shave your long haired pets; that hair acts as insulator, keeping them cooler in the summer and protecting them from sunburn.
Now for the Fun Stuff: Exercises You Can do With Your Pet
Hopefully you’re already walking your dog daily. Walking can be a great workout. According to in a study published in The Journal Preventive Medicine, “Dog owners who reported walking their dogs were almost 25 percent less likely to be obese than people without dogs.” Plus, you and your pet will get mental and stress relieving benefits.
If possible, try to establish a routine—say one 30-minute walk in the morning and one in the evening. Your pet will appreciate the stability, and a schedule helps motivate us to get out there daily. Try out different paces and new routes to keep your daily walks fresh.
And try an outdoor walk with Aaptiv. With our trainers and energetic playlists, both you and your pet will have a blast.
Hiking is one of the most rewarding activities you can do with your pup. The combination of a harder workout and nature is great for mind, body, and spirit.
Hiking is a little different than other activities, since you are essentially on your own out there, especially if you’re doing a big hiking trip. For hikes, you always want to have an ID tag on your pup, bring plenty of water, and ideally, carry a first aid kit. Plan ahead. Having the right gear—like collapsing water bowls—can mean the difference between a good and bad experience.
Start off with shorter, less intense hikes and work your way up. Even though you’re just walking, hikes can get hilly and hard. It’s best to build up fitness before attempting the more strenuous hikes. For those of you already tackling shorter hikes, backcountry and thru hikes are sure to challenge you (if you and your pet accomplish such a hike, let us know!).
A few tips for hiking with your pet:
- Make sure your dog comfortable on a leash and has good recall in case he or she gets loose.
- If your dog is cautious of other people or dogs, make sure to alert other hikers.
- Pick up after your pet.
- Before you head out, check the park rules—make sure pets are allowed.
Like any other intense or high-impact sport, ease your pup into running. It’s fantastic exercise for them, but just like you, they need to get in shape over time.
Start slow with them on Aaptiv. With thousands of workouts across every level, this is something for everyone.
If you’re running on the road, always keep your dog on your left—out of the line of traffic—and on a relatively short leash. We don’t want pup zigzagging in and out of the road. For those of you lucky enough to have a trail close by, make sure that off-leash pets are allowed. Like hiking, you’ll want to carry water and make sure pup has an ID.
Tips for a successful run with your pet:
- If your dog isn’t good on-leash, try attending a basic obedience class. A well-behaved pet makes running easier on you both.
- If you have a puppy, avoid running, especially on pavement, for at least six months—possibly longer if you have a large breed. The pounding can be bad for growing bones. Please consult with your veterinarian.
- Allow time for your dog to potty before you run. Plan to spend some time walking while you both warm up.
- Have set periods to let your dog do some “doggie things” like sniffing before you start running and at the end of your run.
- Make running a game for them—most dogs love intervals, so feel free to play with pace as your fitness allows.
If you plan on taking your pup biking, you will need to make sure you have a safe attachment for your bike—one with a quick release in case of emergency.
Be prepared to spend some time getting your dog accustomed to a bike and learning to navigate next to it.
Before you go on your first ride with dog, take him on a few trial walks to get him used to the bike. Walk on the right side of the bike with your dog on the left. Try stopping, speeding up, turning, and moving over for cars. During this time, it’s helpful to incorporate verbal cues like “let’s go” and “easy.” These will come in handy during your rides. Again, start slow, building up your fitness.
Tips for biking with your dog:
- The easiest pace for your dog to maintain is trotting; if you see your dog getting exhausted, take a walk break.
- Always wear a helmet.
- If you’re mountain biking, it’s probably safer to have your dog off leash. Make sure the trail allows off-leash dogs, and do some easier practice runs.
Yoga is every bit as good for your pet as it is for you, and they’ll get the same benefits. Relieving stress and strengthening your bond, yoga with pets is a combination of exercises and massage. It’s about making the most of your relationship with your pet versus forcing them into wild poses.”
Look for a “Doga” class near you, or try these simple poses (maybe even with an Aaptiv yoga class!)
The new year is here—aka resolution season—and getting fit usually tops the list of New Year’s pledges. Studies show it’s easier to succeed when you have a workout partner, and what better workout buddy than your dog?
From yoga to kayaking, there are plenty of fun ways to get in shape with your pet. We talked to fitness trainer and founder of Leash Your Fitness, Dawn Celapino, for great tips on exercising with your dog, sample workouts, and more.
Workouts for You and Your Dog
You may think walking or running are the only types of exercise you can do with your dog, but there are many other options. With classes like “Bonding with Bootcamp” and “Butts and Guts With Your Mutt,” Celapino’s unique fitness concept incorporates a full-body workout for you with obedience training for your dog.
Start a new fitness routine where your dog can join in! You’ll both get the exercise you need.
“Walking your dog is fine, but you’re not getting balance work and you’re not building muscle,” Celapino says. “Our classes are a complete workout for the person and work time for the dogs—I want the dogs to be focusing on their parents and on the task at hand.”
Celapino is a certified personal trainer who leads pet parents through a variety of exercises, including cardio, strength training, and stability moves. Dogs are required to stay leashed with their owners throughout the class and will go through a variety of activities, from walking or running to sit/stays to agility exercises.
“To make them stop running and be in a sit, that’s harder for them mentally because they’re sitting there thinking ‘I want to go!” Celapino explains. “That’s the obedience part—teaching them they are not going to sit there for long but right now, they need to sit before we’ll do something else.”
Working out with your dog will help strengthen your bond.
Celapino thinks our dogs provide an added motivation to push through a tough workout.
“I had a woman in her 60s who felt like she couldn’t keep up in class,” Celapino says. “But her dog loved it so much, she came back and now she’s teaching classes for me!”
- Start with a 2-3 minute walk to keep your dog moving
- 10 push-ups on a picnic table or on the ground with your dog in a sit
- 30-second walk followed by a 10-second sprint, then another 30-second walk
- 30-second plank with your dog laying down
- 20-30 walking lunges with your dog in a heel
- Repeat 3-5 times
It isn’t as ridiculous as it might sound! In fact, it comes naturally to our dogs, who often stretch it out in their namesake pose, downward dog. But dog yoga isn’t about the moves.
“They are not doing poses with you, it’s about them reading your energy and staying calm,” Celapino explains. “Everyone stays calm—there’s no talking and no treats.”
Celapino has six years of experience leading dog yoga classes, which she says are a great bonding activity. She even led the largest dog yoga class ever, a 40-minute class with 265 pooches—which may end up being the Guinness World Record (the event is in review).
“The dogs can’t do that for hours on end, but as long as everyone stays calm, the dogs are calm,” Celapino says. “All of our classes are like that.”
Outdoor Sports With Your Dog
It doesn’t stop at yoga—you can enjoy all the great outdoors offers with your dog. Some of the activities you can enjoy together are:
- Paddle Boarding
- Trail Running
- 5k Race
It’s important to make sure your dog is well-trained for some of these activities. Your dog needs to be calm and non-reactive to make these outings a success.
Dogs are good companions in the great outdoors, but make sure they are well trained around other dogs.
“Putting your dog in these different scenarios, everything is new,” Celapino explains. “They have to figure out each place we go, this is going to be okay.”
Basic obedience is critical—at a minimum, your dog needs to know and be reliable with heel, come, and leave it.
“He should be comfortable around people as well,” Demling says. “This will ensure his exercise routine is fun and not stressful for you, your dog, and everyone around you.”
Dogs Need Exercise, Too!
If you can’t muster the energy to get off the couch and get to the gym, those big brown eyes begging for some physical activity may be all the motivation you need. It’s also easier to make friends with your fur buddy in tow.
Dogs need exercise and mental stimulation, so vary their routine. You can even try obstacles!
“Nobody likes to walk into the gym or into a class where everybody knows each other and nobody knows them,” Celapino explains. “Dogs are the icebreaker—we all love dogs and we have that in common.”
And dogs need exercise, too!
The founder of Pawtopia Dog Training, Colleen Demling, explains that it has to do with their biology. “Dogs aren’t meant for the sedentary life most of us currently live,” she says. “Their ancestors often roamed for miles and miles every day, so their bodies are built for way more than a casual walk around the block.”
Regular exercise not only keeps your dog healthy, but it can also dramatically reduce problem behaviors such as barking, jumping, and chewing.
“This applies to small dogs, too!” Demling adds. “Just because they are little doesn’t mean they don’t need daily exercise outside the house.”
Demling recommends 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day, but suggests mixing it up.
“Would you get bored if you did the same workout at the gym every single day?” Demling asks. “Your dog feels the same! If he goes on the same walk every day, things start to become boring. He is no longer intrigued by the smells and things he sees because he has seen it 1,000 times before. He is missing out on critical mental stimulation that many dogs gain from walks.”
Shake up your routine at least once a week, whether it’s a new route or a new exercise regimen like classes. But remember to consult your vet to figure out what’s best for your dog.
“No one form of workout is right for every dog, so talk to your veterinarian before starting their exercise program,” Demling adds. “Make sure your vet educates you on the signs of exhaustion or overheating.”
Some signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Panting excessively
- Tongue or gums turning red
- He can’t keep up or lies listlessly
If your dog exhibits any of these signs, stop exercising and seek immediate veterinary care.
The Bottom Line
Exercise is good for humans and dogs alike. Whether you’re just starting a fitness program or looking for ways to mix up your workouts, try exercising with your dog. When you find ways to get fit with your pet, you both reap the benefits. Plus, your bond will only get stronger!
Safety Tips For Working Out With Your Dog
Exercising with your dog is a great way for the two of you to strengthen your bond and to get some cardiovascular in at the same time. While canine/human workouts can be fun, they can also be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken. Follow the tips below when working out with your dog to ensure that you both are safe:
1. Before exercising with your dog, make sure that he is physically fit enough to handle it.
Dogs should be evaluated by a veterinarian before starting a workout program. Also consider the dog’s age. Long distance workouts are not good for young and developing dogs and dogs that are too old may need to take it easy as well.
2. Do not just dive into an exercise routine.
Work your way into a more intensive workout regimen. Start slow and always warm up. Gradually build up your and your dog’s stamina before attempting long and hard workouts.
3. Consider your dog’s breed.
Some breeds are better equipped for harder exercise than others. Greyhounds, for example, do better with shorter sprints while pit bulls have a higher endurance and can tolerate longer distances.
4. Whether you are running, biking, hiking, walking, or rollerblading with your dog, make sure that he stays to one side of you the entire time.
It’s essential that you train your dog to stick to one side of you and not to dart in front while exercising beside you. This could cause you to trip, which can result in injury to both of you. Dogs that pull on the leash can cause damage to their throat and can also throw you off balance.
5. Consider environmental factors before you workout.
Running in the rain could be dangerous as it could cause you or your dog to slip and fall. During the summer, keep your workouts to early mornings or in the early evening, when the temperature is cooler. This will help you to avoid heat stroke, plus hot pavement can be uncomfortable on a dog’s feet. Avoid terrain that is uneven or rocky.
6. Stay hydrated. Carry water while exercising for lengthy periods.
This is especially crucial during warmer weather. If you have a long walk or hike planned, it can be a good idea to pack a few treats in order to keep your dog’s energy level up; you may even want to toss a granola bar in your backpack for yourself.
7. Don’t tie the leash to your wrist.
This could cause injury to you or your dog if he makes an unexpected jerk. Consider a hands-free leash for long distance walks or hikes. This is also convenient as it can also safely hold your keys, phone, and dog treats, making them easily accessible while you work out.
8. Use the proper safety equipment.
When biking or rollerblading with your dog, make sure to wear a helmet, kneepads, and other safety equipment. If you’re biking, it can be helpful to attach a Springer to your bicycle. This device fastens your dog’s leash to your bike and has a specially designed coil spring, which helps to absorb the force of a dog’s tug or lunge.
9. Don’t push it too hard.
Keep your eye on your dog. If he shows any signs of exhaustion, pain, soreness, excessive panting, or has trouble breathing, you’ve pushed it too far and it’s time to stop. Make sure to stop or slow down if you begin to feel tired or sore yourself. If you suspect you’ve overdone it, take a few days off from working out before engaging in additional exercise with your dog.
10. After the workout.
Check your dog’s feet for cuts, scrapes, or signs of worn down pads. If you worked out in a grassy or woodsy area, check his fur for burrs, ticks, and other foreign objects. Make sure to give your dog plenty of water to replenish fluids lost during the workout. Allow your dog to rest properly in between exercise routines.
Besides the walk, what’s your favorite way to workout with your dog? Tell us all about it in the comments below.