How to Workout With Your Dog

Keeping your dog fit and healthy will not only extend his life – but also make him so much happier, will reduce stress (including separation anxiety, etc) and help him sleep better. The same is true for us humans! I have a basset hound named Smudge and he loves to workout with me (well, watch me workout!). Bassets aren’t known for their athletic ability – but surprisingly Smudge can really get those short legs going fast (see his video here)! Here are a few ideas on how you can get in a workout with your dog:

  • Go for a walk or run. This is by far the easiest and probably the one your dog will like the most. Just watch out for traffic and see my tips below. Start with a warmup first and make sure to cooldown.
  • Do a combo run and strength training workout. Start with a 5-10min walk or run to warmup. Then, while your dog continues to walk (or sniff like Smudge) you can get in some walking lunges. Then, stop on a nearby sidewalk or safe place away from the street and do 20 pushups. Repeat this process – so: 5min run, 20 walking lunges, 20 pushups x 3 sets. Then, finish with some core at home.
  • Park Workout. Walk or jog to a nearby park (or off-leash dog park!) and then you mix in strength training while your dog plays or lays around. Pack your water and a resistance band to use and once you get to the park you can secure your dog to a tree (never leave him unattended). Then, here is a sample workout: 20 overhead shoulder presses, 20 squats with the band (under your feet, hold handles at shoulder level), 20 bicep curls, 20 reverse flyes (anchor band to pole), 20 alternating step-ups on a bench, 20 tricep dips. Repeat 2-3 times and in between make sure to play with your dog!
  • Workout WITH your dog. Head to a safe park or big yard and bring along a ball, frisbee or your dogs favorite toy. Smudge won’t really do this workout with me unless I pack lots of treats! Practice playing fetch with your dog and every time you throw the ball – do 10 burpees! Next time, do 10 pushups and then later mix in squats or jump lunges.

Doggy Workout Tips:

  1. Choose a good leash. I’m not a huge fan of the retractable leash unless I’m at a park or somewhere where Smudge won’t tangled or try to run into a street. I prefer just a regular leash, but you can get a longer one if you need to anchor your dog to a tree or post while you do some squats or core work.
  2. Stay hydrated and avoid the heat of the day! Staying hydrated is important even during the cooler months. I try to pack a portable doggie water bowl if I’m running with my stroller or doing my workout at the park. If I’m going for a run – I try to go to places that have doggie water fountains, but sometimes that’s not possible. In a pinch – I’ve taken a small ziploc baggie with me and then have poured my water (or gotten water from a fountain) and made a makeshift doggie bowl that worked ok. Also, be sure to avoid the heat of the day. If it’s hot for you…it’s twice as hot for your dog! Imagine working out in a fur coat…that’s how they feel! Also, if it’s hot outside – put your hand on the pavement. If it’s too hot to touch – it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Instead, stick to grass or lighter colored sidewalks.Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 7.47.24 AM
  3. Keep your dog’s breed and body type in mind. I have a Basset Hound and they are not known for their running skills! So, the longest I’ve ever run with Smudge is about 2-3 miles and I usually had to mix in A LOT of walking during that time. So, if your breed is not very athletic- choose one of the workouts above where he/she can take lots of breaks. On the other hand, if you have a dog that loves to run or is very high – energy…they probably don’t want to lounge around at the park while you do pushups…so make sure to incorporate them and get them moving!
  4. Listen to your body AND your dog’s! Your dog might be having an off day or could be feeling sick. If you see him acting tired or wanting to lye down a lot – it’s time to go home. Don’t push him too hard or he’s never going to want to workout with you again! One time I made the mistake of taking Smudge a little too far and then the next few times I tried to take him for a walk he tried to avoid that street!
  5. Dress the part. If it’s cold outside – I layer up. You may want to do the same for your dog in the winter if it’s really cold. Unfortunately they don’t make dri-fit or lululemon for dogs – so in the summer they’ll just have to go in the buff. But, you could put one of those self-cooling bandanas on your dog to keep him cooler. If you are going on a trail run – you may want to get some doggie shoes to protect their feet (see above about pavement).

Be sure to check out Smudge’s popular workout video:

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  • Sarah D. and Tonya dog September 15, 2015  

    I stay fit with my dog by running, hiking, doing agility, and disc!

  • Cari Shoemate September 21, 2015  

    Hi Sarah! Wow – sounds like your dog is really fit! Keep it up…working out with your dog is a great way to stay motivated and have fun : )

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