The Ultimate Guide to Getting Fit with Your Dog

a dog out for a walk

As much as we may resist sometimes, we all know that exercising is part of living a healthy life—and that goes for our dogs too. Just like humans, dogs should have a healthy diet, as well as regular mental and physical stimulation to truly thrive. If we both need exercise then, why not do it together? With workout trends constantly growing and changing, there are a number of ways, traditional and new, that you and your dog can break a sweat together. Plus, exercising with your dog is not only great for the health of you both, but it also can help with your dog’s training and behavior, as well as further develop your bond. In this ultimate guide to getting fit with your dog, we’ll explore some of the top ways you can exercise together—breaking down different activities, intensity level, calorie estimates, and tips to make the most of your workout together.

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Exercising with Your Dog: What You Need to Know

Dogs need exercise too. If you’re struggling to find the motivation to workout on a regular basis, you might consider finding a physical activity you and your dog can do together. This way, you’re not only improving your own health, but your dog’s as well. After all, although the exact amount of exercise your dog needs can vary—depending on factors like his breed, age, existing health conditions—it’s safe to say that it’s good for a dog to get anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day.

Moreover, while it’s easy to determine an average number of calories that we burn during different workouts, it’s difficult to say exactly how calories apply to dogs and how many they burn during any given exercise. Because of this, it’s better to consider your dog’s exercise in terms of length of time, taking into consideration, of course, what works best for him particularly. However, despite this difference in thinking about calories, it’s safe to say that like with humans, the more intense an activity is, the more it will affect your dog and therefore, the more calories he’ll burn.

Building The Routine

Additionally, when thinking about developing a workout routine for you and your dog, it’s important to remember that just as we do, dogs get bored. To keep your dog’s mind and body engaged then, you’ll want to mix up the activities you do together. Plus, trying many different workouts will not only keep your dog healthy, but can also reduce anxieties and prevent problem behaviors. Furthermore, as we mentioned earlier, working out with your dog helps develop your bond—you’re working together, testing your limits, and relying on each other throughout the workout process.

This being said, however, the exercise routine or workouts that are best for you and your dog can vary and will be particular to the two of you. Through your exercise journey, you don’t want to push yourself or your dog too hard, and cause more damage than good. If you’re unsure of what will work best for your dog, or simply want some assistance in planning, you can speak with your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best kind of workouts for your dog and make you aware of any limits or health concerns you should keep in mind while working out together. One of the most common issues to watch out for, as an example, is heat exhaustion. You’ll always want to keep your dog hydrated while exercising, watch out for any signs of exhaustion, and be aware of his (as well as your) limits.

Workouts for You and Your Dog

Keeping this in mind, however, there are numerous different exercise options you can explore, try, and mix up into your workout routine. There’s something that will work for every dog and owner. Let’s break down some of the most popular options:

Walking, Jogging, or Running with Your Dog

Intensity Level: Low to High

Calories Burned in 30 Minutes: 90-350

Depending on you and your dog’s fitness level, walking, jogging, or running are simple, yet effective activities that you can do to exercise together. Although you might not think walking is the most strenuous activity, it can be a great way to get started in your exercise routine. As you progress, you can work up to jogging or running with your dog. With any of these types of activities, you can modify your intensity level based on your own situation. The exact amount of calories you’ll burn will depend on your level, where you’re running (hilly vs. flat) and your speed. In addition to these activities being a good source of exercise, getting your dog out and about and exposing him to new and different situations will also serve as a mental challenge—to remember his training and pay attention to you amidst distractions while exercising in this capacity.

Running with Dog

Biking or Roller Skating with Your Dog

Intensity Level: Medium to High

Calories Burned in 30 Minutes: 300-450

If you’re looking for a workout activity that’s a little more intense, you can consider roller skating or biking with your dog. Either of these options can be great for high-energy breeds who like to run, as your dog will need to keep up with the pace you’re setting on your skates or bike. Additionally, this activity will also be a mental challenge for your dog, as he will have to adjust to moving with you on the skates or bike, determine how to work best with you in this situation, and of course, listen as directed. Certainly, either of these exercise activities will be a coordination task for you both.

Biking with dog

Outdoor Sports with Your Dog

Intensity Level: Low to High

Calories Burned in 30 Minutes: Varies depending on activity

There are a variety of outdoor sports you and your dog can do, depending of course on your preferences, the weather, and your dog’s personality and activity level. Some popular outdoor sports to consider are:

  • Kayaking
  • Paddle Boarding
  • Trail Running
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • 5k Race

If you’re thinking about trying any of these activities with your dog, the intensity level can vary, but you’ll want to make sure that you’re both well prepared for more involved workouts, like hiking or paddle boarding. Additionally, if you’re taking your dog swimming, for example, you’ll want to make sure he has familiarity with the water and can handle himself in that environment. After all, not all breeds are well equipped for the water. With any of these outdoor activities, however, you’ll not only get the benefits of the actual exercise, but also the enjoyment and health benefits of being outside. You’ll have the opportunity to breath fresh air, be exposed to different sights and sounds, and explore new environments—all of which can include new obedience challenges for your dog as well.

Hiking with dog

Dog Yoga

Intensity Level: Low to Medium

Calories Burned in 30 Minutes: 120-180 calories

As yoga has become more and more of a preferred exercise for humans, it’s only natural that it would expand into the world of dogs too. Many studios now offer dog yoga classes where you can do yoga with your dog. Not only is yoga a great spiritual activity, but can be of a lower intensity, which can be fitting for lower-energy dogs. However, with an activity like this, your dog’s behavior is of the utmost importance. If you’re in a yoga studio, your dog will have to listen to you, be OK with other people and dogs around, and generally behave during this workout. That being said, while fun and often effective exercise for humans, this might not be the most intensive exercise for dogs. However, there’s no reason you can’t try dog yoga at home and let your dog engage in some other kind of stimulation, like a puzzle toy, while you go through your routine.

Dog Yoga

Dog Sports

Intensity Level: Medium to High

Calories Burned in 30 Minutes: Varies depending on activity

Perhaps one of the most unique and fun ways you can workout with your dog is to get involved in dog sports. From agility to trick routines to dock diving, dog sports are, as you might imagine, sports created specifically for dogs. The intensity level of these sports, like many of our workout options, can range, but generally fall around a medium level. For dogs, these kinds of exercises are challenging (and fun!) both mentally and physically.

  • Agility: One of the most popular dog sports you can do with your dog is agility. In agility, you lead your dog through a set course containing obstacles like jumps, weave poles, tunnels, and more. This dog sport exercises you and your dog in multiple ways. First, depending on the speed of your dog, you’ll both be walking or running around the course, and your dog, of course, will face the physicality of going through the obstacles. Additionally, you’ll be responsible for remembering the order of the obstacles and figuring out how best to lead your dog based on the way the course is laid out. You’ll have to direct your dog and your dog will (hopefully) follow your instructions. Agility is a sport you can practice DIY style at home, creating or buying your own obstacles and setting up your own course. You also can take classes at a training club and eventually participate in official competitions.
  • Trick Routines: Another great sport that will be a workout for both you and your dog is trick routines. Like agility, the benefits of this sport are two-fold. First, you and your dog will get the exercise of moving around, performing the tricks, and following the routine. Second, you’ll be working your minds and bond as you remember what you need to do and how to execute it. You’ll provide the base training and cues for your dog to follow and your dog will have to pay attention to your instructions to follow through with the trick routine.
  • Other Dog Sports: There are other dog sports—dock diving, flyball, lure coursing—that won’t provide as much exercise value for you, but that you might want to consider as a great source of mental and physical stimulation particularly for your dog.

Working Out with Your Dog: Tips for Success

At the end of the day, working out with your dog is a great way to hold yourself accountable and develop a consistent exercise routine. There are a number of different ways, as we’ve shown, that you can work out together, and you should explore a number of options until you find the ones that are best personally for you and your dog. Regardless of the exercise you decide upon, or even if you switch it up, you’ll want to pay close attention to you and your dog’s limits, making sure to avoid strain or exhaustion.

Although we can’t accurately determine how dogs burn calories, we do know that it’s beneficial for your dog’s health for him to get physical stimulation, as well as mental stimulation, regularly. Therefore, activities that work not only your dog’s body, but his mind, are particularly beneficial. If you need help developing a workout routine, you can always consult your veterinarian for advice. Ultimately, however, no matter how you decide to work out together, choosing to do so will put you both on the path to a healthier lifestyle and moreover, a better relationship and stronger bond.

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