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14 Fun Workouts to Do with Your Dog: Your Guide To Keeping Fit With Your Dog

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Fun Workouts to Do with Your Dog

Fitness is essential for our and our canine companions’ mental and physical health, so having workouts with our dogs is crucial. Not only does working out and exercising with our dogs keep us fit and healthy, but it also gives us vital bonding time. And let’s face it, most of us are pressed for time, so working our dogs into our exercise routine just makes sense for a balanced lifestyle.

But picking the right workout for yourself and your dog is essential. Just like us, older dogs, puppies, dogs with health issues, or dogs that are from less athletic breeds may not be suited to every kind of exercise. We also need to ensure we have the right equipment, like secure dog harnesses for public outings. Plus, to stay motivated, we also need to be able to focus on exercise that we enjoy too. So let’s delve into options for getting fit with our dogs.

In this article, we will introduce you to 10 workouts you can do with your dog to help you both stay in shape. We will explore different types of exercises that are suitable for dogs of all ages and fitness levels. We will also provide tips on how to ensure your dog’s safety while working out together and look at some factors you need to consider when choosing an exercise to do with your do

Cardio Workouts

When it comes to cardio workouts with your canine companion, there are plenty of activities that can get your dog’s heart pumping while also burning calories for both you and your pooch. We will go over the best options for cardio workouts with dogs and touch on what’s best for you and your specific dog.

1. Walking

Walking is the quintessential key workout for any dog owner. Regardless of how much (or how little) you are working out already, never underestimate the power of regular walks to get in that step count and get an overall sense of well being. It’s a low impact activity, so it’s great for dogs and people suffering any health problems or injuries. 

It’s an excellent start for anybody or any dog struggling with weight issues, and it’s suitable for nearly all dogs of all body types and ages, from Pugs to Border Collies, a daily walk goes a long way. Whether you are already a fitness fanatic or you are just beginning your fitness journey, making a walk with your dog a daily habit is by far the best place to start.

2. Running

Running

Running is a classic cardio workout that is perfect for dogs with high energy levels who love to sprint. If you have a healthy medium-to-large breed dog, they may be able to keep up with you on a long-distance run, while smaller breeds may prefer shorter sprints. Remember to start slow and build up endurance over time to prevent injury.

Running is a higher impact activity. So don’t run with puppies who have not yet had fully matured run with you; it could damage the growth plate cartilage in their legs. Likewise, running may not be suitable for older dogs, dogs with conditions like arthritis, or breeds like Bulldog. 

3. Biking

Biking

Biking is another great option for high-energy dogs who love to run. You can attach a special leash to your bike that will keep your dog safely by your side while you pedal. This is a great way to cover more ground and explore new areas while also getting a great workout. Be sure to try out biking with your dog at slower speeds, before picking up the pace.

If you have a high-energy dog that loves to run and cover long distances (like a Husky, German Short-haired Pointer or Weimaraner), then biking is for you. In fact, an excellent sport to take part in is called bikejoring. This harnesses a dog’s natural urge to pull and run, allows you to navigate tough terrain and gives you both a heart-pumping, high-intensity workout. Just see the video below.

4. Swimming

Swimming is a low-impact cardio workout that is perfect for dogs who may have joint issues or other health concerns. Many breeds are natural swimmers and will love the chance to splash around in the water. This is also a great way to beat the heat during the summer months.

Swimming also includes hydrotherapy, which is ideal for overweight dogs or dogs recovering from injury. Perhaps the best part about swimming with dogs is that it combines resistance training while reducing wear and tear on the joints. This makes it an excellent workout for you and your dog. 

Not every dog loves swimming or even knows how straight away, so see this video on teaching your dog to swim safely.

5. Tennis

Playing a game of fetch or tennis with your dog is a great way to get their heart rate up while also working on their agility and coordination. This is a great option for dogs who love to run and play, and it can be done in your own backyard or at a local park.

There are several ways to try tennis with your dog. One is simply to serve as many balls as you can and allow your dog or dogs to retrieve them. Another way is to teach your dog to retrieve balls that hit the net when you play tennis against a human opponent.

Training a dog to retrieve balls is an excellent way to promote obedience and give your dog a job to do while you get your own workout in.

No matter what activity you choose, be sure to take it slow and build up endurance over time. Always bring plenty of water and snacks for both you and your dog, and be sure to take breaks when needed. With these cardio workouts, you and your furry friend can stay healthy and happy together.

6. Hiking

Hiking is a great way to get some fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors with your furry friend. Many dogs love to explore new trails and terrain, so this is a great way to keep them engaged while also getting a good workout. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for both you and your dog.

Be careful while hiking however. Make sure to do it safely. Don’t let your dog off leash unless they have an excellent recall. Consider using a GPS tracker collar to make sure you don’t lose them in the wild. It’s also vital to be aware of dangers like wild animals or hiking in the heat.

Strength Training And Other Workouts With Your Dog

To keep fit and build muscle, we also need to focus on strength training, or other workouts like pilates. If you’re thinking you can’t incorporate your dog into your at-home workouts, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that these are excellent opportunities to involve your dog. Let’s look at some of your options:

7. Use A Doggy Treadmill While You Workout

If you really want to spend some time lifting weights, doing bodyweight exercises, or following a youtube at home workout, there’s no reason your dog can’t workout at the same time. Simply invest in teaching your dog to run or walk on a treadmill and set the timer while you get your own workout in. This way you’re still working out together.

8. Incorporate Your Dog Into Your Workout Routine

Incorporate Your Dog Into Your Workout Routine

Another great way to kill two birds with one stone is to make your dog part of your workout. There are many ways to do this, but essentially, you design a workout around your dog’s obedience routine. This means incorporating obedience training and playtime into your own workout by:

  1. Asking for a down stay while you do the plank.
  2. Doing heel work or training a dog to walk on a loose leash at your side while you do exercises like a walking lunge.
  1. Teach your dog to walk or heel between your legs while you dog squats:
  1. Throwing the ball for your dog and doing a certain amount of reps while they play fetch.

It may take a bit of creativity, but making your dog part of your workout by utilizing the time to ask for certain behaviors in training is fantastic to maximize both exercise and communication with your dog.

9. Pilates and Yoga (Doga) With Your Dog

Pilates and Yoga

Working out with your dog can take many forms, and it doesn’t always have to be high intensity. For many dogs, just being included in something you are doing is enough to build that bond with them. This is especially important for puppies or young dogs that perhaps aren’t up for a hour long run.

Here’s a fun pilates workout you can do with your puppy:

And for those of us that love yoga, here’s a great way to get you started incorporating your dog into your asanas.

Dog Activity & Sports Workouts

Getting involved in dog sports and activities are a great way for you both to stay physically active. Dog sports can help improve your dog’s coordination, balance, and obedience. Here are some agility workouts to try with your furry friend:

11. Obstacle Course & Agility Workouts

Obstacle Course & Agility Workouts

Setting up an obstacle course in your backyard or at a local park is a fun way to challenge your dog’s agility skills. You can use items such as cones, tunnels, and jumps to create a course. Start with simple obstacles and gradually increase the difficulty as your dog becomes more confident.

Enrolling your dog in agility classes may seem like a workout only for them, but you’ll get a good amount of running in as you keep up around the course.

12. Tug of War

Tug of War

Tug of war is a classic game that can help improve your dog’s strength and agility. Make sure to use a durable rope toy and play in a safe area. This game can also help improve your dog’s obedience skills as you can use commands such as “drop it” and “leave it”.

13. Dancing

Dancing

Dancing with your dog is a great way to bond and get some exercise. You can teach your dog simple dance routines such as spinning, jumping, and weaving through your legs. This workout is perfect for dogs of all ages and sizes.

14. Frisbee

Playing frisbee with your dog is a fun way to improve their agility and coordination. Start with short throws and gradually increase the distance as your dog becomes more skilled. Make sure to use a frisbee that is appropriate for your dog’s size and breed.

Benefits of Working Out with Your Dog

Exercising with your dog can be an enjoyable and effective way to stay healthy and strengthen your bond with your furry friend. Here are some of the benefits of working out with your dog:

Health Benefits

Exercising with your dog can help keep both you and your pet healthy. Regular exercise can help prevent obesity, heart disease, and other illnesses in dogs, just as it can in humans. Additionally, regular exercise can help improve your dog’s mental health by reducing stress and anxiety.

Bonding

Exercising with your dog can help strengthen the bond between pet parent and dog. Training and exercising together can help build trust and communication, which can improve your relationship with your furry friend.

Mental Stimulation

Exercising with your dog can also provide mental stimulation for your pet. Dogs need regular mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy, and incorporating training exercises into your workout routine can help provide this stimulation.

Motivation

Working out with your dog can be a great source of motivation. Dogs are natural motivators and can help keep you on track with your fitness goals. Additionally, the promise of treats and playtime can be a great incentive for both you and your furry friend.

Age

Exercising with your dog can be beneficial for dogs of all ages. Regular exercise can help keep older dogs healthy and active, while also providing a fun and engaging way to bond with your pet.

Depression

Exercising with your dog can also help combat depression in both pets and pet parents. Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression in humans, and the same may be true for dogs.

Weight Loss

Exercising with your dog can also be an effective way to help overweight pets shed some extra pounds. Regular exercise can help improve your dog’s overall health and reduce the risk of obesity-related illnesses.

Overall, exercising with your dog can be a fun and rewarding way to stay healthy and bond with your furry friend. By incorporating training exercises into your workout routine, you can provide your pet with the mental stimulation and physical activity they need to stay healthy and happy.

Safety Tips for Working Out with Your Dog

Safety Tips for Working Out with Your Dog

When it comes to working out with your furry friend, safety should always be a top priority. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Always check with your veterinarian before starting a new exercise routine with your dog. Certain breeds, ages, and health conditions may require modifications or limitations.
  • Start slow and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Just like humans, dogs need time to build up their endurance and strength.
  • Keep your dog leashed at all times when in public areas. This not only ensures their safety but also the safety of other dogs and people around you.
  • If you’re working out in an off-leash area, make sure your dog is well-trained and obedient to commands. Keep a close eye on them to prevent them from wandering off or getting into any dangerous situations.
  • Bring plenty of water for both you and your dog, especially on hot days. Dehydration can be dangerous for dogs and humans alike.
  • Avoid working out during the hottest parts of the day, as dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke than humans. Early morning or evening workouts are ideal.
  • Pay attention to your dog’s body language and behavior. If they seem tired, overheated, or uncomfortable, take a break or end the workout early.
  • Finally, have fun! Working out with your dog can be a great bonding experience, so don’t forget to enjoy the time you spend together.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions

Does playing with your dog count as exercise?

Playing with your dog can definitely count as exercise, especially if it involves physical activity like running or playing fetch. However, it’s important to make sure your dog is getting enough exercise on a regular basis to maintain their physical and mental health.

What is considered good exercise for a dog?

Good exercise for a dog should be both physically and mentally stimulating and be adjusted according to their age, health, and physical ability. Good exercise for a Maltese is not the same as good exercise for an Australian Shepherd. Some examples of good exercise for dogs include brisk walks, running, hiking, swimming, and playing fetch. Dogs also benefit from mental stimulation, so activities like puzzle toys or agility training can be great exercise options as well.

What should you do daily with a dog?

Daily activities for a dog should include exercise, playtime, and training. A daily walk or run is a great way to get some exercise, while playtime can include games like fetch or tug-of-war. Training can include obedience training, agility training, or even just practicing basic commands like sit and stay.

What are some exercises to do with your dog at home?

There are many exercises you can do with your dog at home, including indoor fetch, hide and seek, and tug-of-war. You can also try incorporating your dog into your own workout routine by doing exercises like squats or lunges while holding onto their leash.

How can one exercise their dog in an apartment?

Exercising a dog in an apartment can be a bit more challenging, but it’s still possible to provide them with enough physical activity. Indoor games like fetch or tug-of-war can be great options, as well as training exercises like obedience training or agility training. You can also take your dog on walks or runs around your apartment complex or nearby parks.

Conclusion

Incorporating your dog into your workout routine can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. Not only does it provide an opportunity for bonding, but it can also help keep both you and your dog healthy and active.

The 14 workouts listed in this article are just a few examples of the many ways you can exercise with your dog. Remember to always consult with your veterinarian before starting any new exercise routine with your dog, especially if they have any health concerns or pre-existing conditions.

It’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as your dog becomes more comfortable and fit. Be sure to also take breaks and provide plenty of water for both you and your dog during your workouts.

Whether you prefer to take your dog for a run, try out some agility training, or simply play fetch in the backyard, there are plenty of ways to get active with your furry companion. So grab your leash and get ready to break a sweat with your four-legged workout partner!

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

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Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.