Get Your Sweat and Tail Wag On With a Dog Workout
Calling all humans and pups! It's time to shake up your daily exercise. You love playing fetch and bouncing around the block, but varying your dog workout will benefit both of you physically and mentally. Most important, you'll have fun engaging in new activities together, get stronger and healthier, and grow closer.
Dog Exercises to Try With Your Pup
Here is a selection of some of our favorite doggy-human exercises to get your hearts pumping and tails wagging. They're specially selected for their pet-friendly nature and opportunity for bonding.
Water sports can have a ripple effect on your dog-human partnership or, as we say, 'pet-nership.' From fun in the sun to a full-body workout, playing in the water is easy on the joints.
- Swimming. With webbed feet and wavy hair, the Portuguese water dog is born for swimming. Yet these pups aren't the only ones who love splashing around on a warm day. If your pal is one of many water-loving dogs, join him for a swim.
- Kayaking or paddleboarding. If he's more of a bask-in-the-sun kinda pooch, try your hand at kayaking or paddleboarding. Practice in shallow water first, to ensure your pup stays put and that you've got your balance right. A doggy lifejacket is something to consider.
- Kiddie pools. No body of water nearby? No problem. Try the lighter side of exercise with a kiddie pool. It's sure to bring summertime joy to both of you, in your own backyard!
Remember, always supervise your furry friend when he is in or on the water. Start in shallow areas, providing your pup an easy way out with stairs or a gently sloping shoreline. In deeper water, come prepared with a well-fitting doggy lifejacket.
Hitting the trails is a great choice for exercising and bonding with your pup. Getting away from the hustle and bustle and into nature is a good way for you and your pup to escape everyday stressors.
"You can experience new things together on a hike, like sights, sounds, and especially for dogs — smells."
Ohio State University veterinarian Dr. Leanne Lilly.
Don't forget cool, clean water for both yourself and your pooch so you don't get dehydrated. Choose your hike wisely, keeping your pup in mind. Loose substrate can be hard on the paws, so avoid those trails or try dog booties. If you need your hands free for climbing, use a doggy backpack or a leash that secures to your waist. Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds like bulldogs aren't equipped for long, hot hikes because they can't pant enough to cool down.
Ultimately, though, hiking with dogs isn't about how far you go or how fast you make it there. Rather, it's about making time for exploration — including lots of sniffs. Bring treats and snacks to keep your energy up and to celebrate the journey. Bags for pupper poop are also a must.
Advanced and beginner yogis agree: Yoga (like everything in life) is better with dogs. Coined "doga," wellness enthusiasts are making room on their mats for canine companions.
Some pups join their human companions in the poses. Others provide mind-body guidance in more creative ways. Whichever flow you and your down doggy choose, we guarantee the routine will be full of strengthening belly laughs and one happy (doggo) baby.
Yoga instructor and dog mom, Shona Denovan says practicing doga begins with setting intentions to start every practice session off on the right paw. Mostly, doggy yoga is all about clearing your mind of expectations. Directing your pup into canine-inspired poses — the way a yoga instructor might make adjustments to a human student — might make handling by the vet or groomer easier. In the end though, 'doga' is really about quality time together, in any pose.
Nothing says teamwork quite like the sanctioned human-dog sports league called flyball. The North American Flyball Association is looking for good sports like you and your pup. There are over 375 active clubs registered with NAFA across the United States and Canada.
Flyball is a relay race in which two teams of four dogs jump hurdles. A flyball box launches a ball that each dog catches and returns. The X-Fidos of Portland, Oregon, describe the game as "a high-speed, action-packed sport that combines speed, agility, retrieval skills, and teamwork."
The real value of the game is the human-dog bonding. Even if you two decide that competition isn't your bone to chew, you can still sign up for classes. They offer exercises including stretches, recall, and tugging.
We All Need Exercise
"Dogs, like humans, need exercise of all kinds."
Dr. Bonnie Beaver, veterinary behaviorist at Texas A&M University, suggests taking your pup's and your own physical condition into account before embarking on a new human and dog workout regimen. Check in with your doggo's veterinarian and your doctor first.
"Some medical conditions might limit a dog's ability to exercise," Dr. Beaver says. Even when you and puppers are cleared for exercise, be mindful of where you are on any given day. If either of you become too heated or winded or aren't feeling the exercise, it's OK to take a break or move to something new. Learning how to exercise with your dog is all about you both feeling positive and having fun.
Happily, exercise comes in many shapes and forms — including mentally stimulating activities.
Mental exercise is as important and relationship-strengthening as physical exercise. Fido's learning tricks is as cute as it is beneficial.
Exercise you and your pup's brains together by practicing common commands such as "sit," "stay," and "roll over." Then try tricks like high-fives or physically engaging spins and dancing. "Sit" is the building block for many tricks. To teach "sit" to your pooch, use a high reward (like a delicious treat) to grab his attention. Slowly raise the reward above his head, letting your pup follow. Once his back legs bend and his butt touches the floor, offer an auditory cue like "yes." Immediately give your good doggo a reward. Repeat this, later adding in a verbal cue of "sit."
Rewards for you both
Building positive reinforcement into any exercise with your pup is a good idea. You'll both be rewarded with a stronger cooperative relationship. Your pal will feel encouraged to try new things. Most of all, verbal, physical, or edible praise adds fun to anything you try together.