August 1, 2014

Five Fun Ways to Get Fit With Your Dog

Image courtesy of Mediaplanet

The benefits of exercise are not limited to the two-legged set; as obesity is on the rise for both pets and their humans, the importance of fitting fitness into your routine should not be overlooked. Here are some fun and unique ways to move beyond the walk with your dog:


There is nothing like enjoying nature with your faithful companion at your side. Trail systems can be found even in some of the most urban areas, and there are national forests and county sponsored open spaces just waiting to be explored. Be sure to let someone know where you're going and when to expect you back, follow leash laws, take appropriate emergency supplies and plenty of water for you and your dog.


High-energy dogs are especially well-suited for accompanying you on a morning jog, but most healthy dogs can join you for a few miles. Build up slowly with intervals of walking and running - the Couch to 5k program is a great way to start. Dr. Sophia Yin's article explains running with your dog in more detail.


Forget zumba - how about dancing with your dog? Canine freestyle is a dog sport that incorporates a choreographed trick routine with music and costumes. Even if you don't compete and are just spinning and leg-weaving through your living room, the possibilities are endless!

Doggie Yoga (Doga)

Doga is a fairly new phenomenon combining quality dog time with downward-facing dog. In a world where dogs are increasingly welcome in offices, bars and restaurants, the yoga studio is opening its doors as well. Doga classes instruct inter-species partners in meditation, massage and stretching.

Obedience Circuit

Even if you aren't a runner, have two left feet, can't find a doga class in your area or don't own a pair of hiking shoes, there are still easy ways to get fit with your dog. You can design your own obedience circuit in your back yard or basement using simple exercises and obedience cues. Here are a few ideas (don't forget the rewards!):

Tug Squats - do a series of squats while holding one end of your dog's favorite tug toy

Sit-Stay Lunges - place your dog in a sit-stay while you do a series of static lunges

Recall Relay - place your dog in a down stay, then walk or jog across the room away from them (depending on the strength of your dog's stays). Call the dog to you. Repeat.

Core Strength - alternate sets of crunches for you and puppy push ups for your dog.

The key to any successful exercise program is keeping it fun, and I can't think of a more enjoyable way to get fit than with a favorite dog by my side!

This article was written in collaboration with Mediaplanet to celebrate the most recent cross-platform edition of the Pet Wellness campaign, as seen on For more ideas on how to build a fitness partnership with your dog, see their featured fitness article.

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  1. Great activities - all perfect ways to get fit. You should join up to our FitDog Friday Blog Hop...perfect post for it!

  2. Sounds like a plan
    Lily & Edward

  3. We are with you on the running, walking, and hiking. We do nose work too which wears us out! Great list.

  4. Thanks for joining the hop! We love all these activities, and I'm a certified K9 Fit Club instructor in Atlanta (I see you link to one of their articles)! Can't wait to help more folks get fit with their pups!
    Diane and Rocco

  5. I may be taking Mr. N to yoga class but I don't think the studio offers doga yet. He can unroll a yoga mat though.

  6. Nailah's obsessed with tugging. I actually hate it cause I want her to play fetch instead but she just doesn't go for it. Now that I read your suggestions I think I'll give tug squats a try. :)

    1. I try to distinguish between tugging toys and fetch toys and that works really well. A ball is a terrible tug toy, I like to remind Ruby frequently!

  7. This is an awesome post!! We like to go hiking a lot with our girls.

  8. I can't wait to do some of these ideas with MudLynn! Definitely lots of hiking when we get settled in Washington!

  9. I like the hiking! That's probably the one thing both B and I equally enjoy. The canine freestyle is so WEIRD. We did that in our training class this past spring and it was just...odd. I like the idea of doing different activities with a dog. I used to do sprints across the yard with my dog, Shadow. Sadly, B only stares at me like I am insane when I try to engage her in that particular exercise. ;)

    1. I was so excited to have a hiking partner when I got Ruby but her reactivity makes it less than enjoyable. I could of course take Boca but then I have the guilt of leaving Ruby behind. I've discovered a few places where we rarely see anyone else, and need to make a point of finding more.

      (still don't get email notifications for your comments, so if I don't reply ever, that is likely why!)

  10. My husband was so excited to have a dog running partner when we got Silas. Poor dear. Silas is a total dud as a running buddy. Even if you can get him somewhere he isn't too anxious to go with you, at the five minute mark he turns and looks at you like you're crazy.

    1. I've taken Ruby a few times - she loves it but our biggest challenge is obviously the same as walking: encounters with anyone else.


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