10 Fun Ways to Exercise with Your Dog

10 Fun Ways to Exercise with Your Dog


Dogs make the best workout partners. They always have a great attitude and once your pup gets into the routine of a daily workout, he won’t let you forget about it. His enthusiasm will help you stay motivated and keep you from wimping out.

Daily dog walks are essential for your dog’s mental and physical health, but there are lots of other fun ways to exercise with your dog, too. And, with one-third of US adults and 52 percent of dogs being overweight or obese, exercise is something we could all use a little more of.

On top of that, dogs who don’t get enough exercise are also more prone to behavior issues and separation anxiety. And, small dogs have tons of energy, often more than their large breed counterparts, so don’t let your best buddy’s size be an obstacle.

10 Fun Ways to Exercise with Your Dog

Here are lots of great ideas for working out with your dog so you can both burn off some calories and excess energy!

1.      Jogging

Jogging is an ideal workout to do with dogs who have tons of energy and love action. Keep in mind that this is an intense, high-impact activity. It’s not a great choice for puppies who have developing joints and growing bones, especially if your dog is a larger breed.

Jogging is a heart-healthy, daily workout for you and your pup. It’s best if your dog already knows basic obedience and how to walk on a leash. Start slow and give your dog some time to adjust to the faster pace and build up his fitness level.

If your route takes you along a road with traffic, keep your dog on your left side out of the line of traffic and use a fairly short leash. As he becomes a pro with jogging at your pace, you might want to consider getting a leash that fastens around your waist.

You may also find that your dog is more focused if you give him a few minutes to sniff and do his “doggie thing” at the beginning and end of your run. It will also give him a chance to potty, so you’re not stopping along the way. Establishing a set routine will help him know what to expect.

2.      Stand-up Paddleboarding

Dogs make fantastic co-pilots for stand-up paddleboarding. Dogs of just about any size can cruise along with you on the nose of your paddleboard while you get a fantastic core workout. And, if your dog is a good swimmer, you can toss a stick or toy for him to fetch and bring back, so he gets some exercise, too.

Be sure to choose ultra-calm days for your first few trips out on the water so your pup can develop his sea legs. If you’re having a hard time keeping your balance, try balancing on your knees to lower your center of gravity until you both become pros at staying afloat.

Keep in mind that you’ll probably both end up in the water a few times at first. Make sure your pup is wearing a life jacket for safety. It’s helpful if you can find one with an easy-grab handle.

3.      Kayaking

Sit on top kayaks work great for kayaking with your furry buddy. If your dog is small, teach him to perch on the front. If he’s large, he’ll probably be more comfortable sitting by your feet. Be sure to practice getting in and out of the kayak on land first, and then move to shallow water.

If the slippery surface makes your pooch nervous, use a mat to help him keep his balance. Keep the first few outings short and stick to inlets and slow-moving rivers with minimal boat traffic.

Of course, you’ll burn tons of calories and give your core and a good workout. Your pooch can just enjoy the ride, or if he wants to, you can let him paddle alongside you with his lifejacket on for part of the trip.

4.      Swimming

Just about every dog loves to be in the water! If your dog is one of them, he’ll probably think swimming with you is the most fun he’s ever had, and you’ll both be getting some great exercise at the same time. Swimming is an excellent low-impact activity for senior dogs and those with arthritis and joint issues, too!

5.      Bike Riding

If your dog is in great shape and doesn’t pull on a leash, he might love going bike rides with you. Dogs with tons of pent up energy can go at a flat out run, at least for part of the trip.  Be sure to invest in a safe attachment for your bike that comes with a quick release, just in case.

Before your first ride, practice by walking your dog with him on the left side of the bike and you on the right. Go fast, then slow, make turns, stop, start, and practice moving over for cars. Take some time to teach a few verbal commands, like “let’s go” and “take it easy.”

When cycling with your dog, always wear a helmet for safety and choose bike paths or routes where you’re unlikely to encounter much traffic. Keep in mind that while a trotting pace is most efficient for your dog, you should be prepared to slow to a walk when he gets tired.

6.      Doggy Yoga

If you’re looking for fun ways to exercise with your dog, you can’t beat doggy yoga! It’s a great way to relieve stress and strengthen your bond. There’s some doggy massage and acupuncture incorporated into the poses, “doga” is also a great choice for seniors and dogs with joint issues.

It might be a little hard to picture your dog doing yoga, but when you really think about it, he’s kind of a natural. He already does a perfect “cobra” pose when he stretches after a nap! Look for a “doga” class in your area so you both learn more poses.

7.      Active Fetch

Most dogs love a game of fetch with a tennis ball, frisbee, or favorite toy! This activity is excellent for dogs who like to retrieve, and you can find ways to make the game more challenging so you both get a good workout. Try racing him for the ball or do muscle-building lunges and squats while your best buddy is retrieving.

8.      Rollerblading

Rollerblading with your dog is a great way to burn off his excess energy. You should only do this if you’re an experienced skater with the proper safety gear, including a helmet and knee pads. Stick to low-traffic areas, such as community parks and boardwalks. It’s a lot of fun, and rollerblading is a fantastic way to work your legs and core.

9.      Hiking

Most pups of any age or breed can enjoy hiking because you can adjust the hike’s intensity, speed, and length according to your dog’s fitness level. Hiking regularly will provide numerous benefits for both of you. The combination of nature and exercise is good for the mind and body!

Before you head out, make sure your dog is well behaved on a leash and comes when called. He should also be wearing an ID tag and a GPS tracker, just in case he gets loose. You’ll also want to check the rules of the trail to ensure that dogs are allowed.

10.  Cross-country Skiing/Snowshoeing

Looking for a way to exercise with your dog when it’s cold outside instead of being cooped up in the house? Most dogs love to play in the snow and they’ll love to keep pace with you as you cross-country ski or snowshoe through the powdery white stuff.

Be sure to put some dog booties on your pup and check out our other cold-weather safety tips before you go. You’ll get a fantastic low-impact total body workout, and you can both curl up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket when you get back home!

Tips for Successful Workouts with Your Best Buddy

  • Different breeds and personalities will enjoy different activities, so be prepared to do a little experimenting to discover what your dog likes.
  • Visit the vet for a checkup to ensure that your buddy is up to the increased daily activity before you start an exercise regimen, especially if he’s older or has health issues.
  • No matter how you choose to exercise with your dog, start out slow and give your dog time to build his fitness up to your workout level.
  • Follow your dog’s lead and watch his body language to see if he’s enjoying the activity.
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped and wearing an ID tag when you take him out.
  • Keep a small first aid kit with if you’ll be away from home.
  • Always be on the lookout for uneven terrain, rocks, glass, glass, thorns, or other foreign objects that could lead to a paw pad injury.

Special Consideration for Exercising with Your Dog in Warm Weather

  • Do your workout in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler.
  • Choose a route with lots of shade.
  • Remember that your dog can overheat easily because they don’t sweat as humans do. Watch for signs of heatstroke and call your vet right away if there’s any cause for concern.
  • Bring a water bottle and a collapsible dog bowl with you.
  • Be wary of sunburn, especially if your dog is white or has light skin.
  • Flat-faced breeds like pugs and bulldogs will struggle more with heat and humidity, so be extra cautious.
  • Avoid hot pavement, gravel, sidewalks, and sand because they can severely burn your dog’s feet.

Wrapping it Up

Working out doesn’t have to be a chore, and when you exercise with your dog, it can actually be a lot of fun! No matter what your dog’s age or fitness level, there’s an activity that will work for him. Just be sure to adjust the length, speed, and intensity to suit your pup and you’re good to go!

Anna Marston
Anna is a full-time veterinary technician with more than 20 years of experience in the pet care industry. She resides in Upstate New York with her hubby, daughter, and a menagerie of fur-babies.

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