How to exercise with a dog

Exercising with your dog

Is working out a fundamental part of your life? Do you want your dog to get more exercise? Do you feel like you’re short on time to do both well?

There’s an easy solution: you and your dog can work out together.

You’ve probably seen people on a run with their well-trained dog running alongside them. But if you’re not a runner or your dog can’t keep up with you, don’t despair. There are a variety of other workouts you can do with your dog that will keep them fit, strong and happy. Keep reading to learn more.

Benefits of exercising with your dog

The benefits of exercising for dogs are the same as their human counterparts. Below are some of the many reasons why it’s important to exercise your pup.

Exercise with your dog to help prevent obesity

Being overweight can shorten your dog's lifespan by as much as two and a half years. This makes obesity a serious issue. Working out increase your dog's metabolic rate. Exercise paired with a healthy diet will result in a faster metabolic rate in your dog, helping them maintain an ideal weight, or helping them lose weight if they're too heavy.

Exercise with your dog to build bone density and prevent osteoporosis

As your dog ages, they'll naturally lose bone density. Losing too much bone mass can lead to osteoporosis. This medical condition, which makes bones fragile and prone to fracturing, is often devastating. Fortunately, regular exercise builds bone density, setting your pooch up for an active life well into their senior years. High-impact activities like running are the most effective for building bone mass.

Exercise with your dog to maintain muscle strength and reduce muscle loss

When combined with adequate protein intake, working out allows your dog to maintain their straight and reduce muscle loss These are two issues that can plague dogs as they age. By giving your pup regular exercise, you give them the opportunity to be fully mobile their entire life.

Exercise with your dog to alleviate anxiety

If you've ever gotten home to find your shoes or couch chewed up, you understand the consequences of an anxious dog. A lack of exercise can cause anxiety in your canine companion. A healthy amount of physical activity, on the other hand, alleviates anxiety alleviates, helping your pooch feel more at ease.

How to exercise with your dog

There are more types of workouts you can do with your dog than you may think. Following are seven exercises that will get you and your pup moving in fun, rewarding ways.

Hiking

This activity offers the dual benefit of getting exercise while taking in picturesque sights. Your dog will also love all the scents along the hiking trail — they're different from the smells during a normal walk in their neighborhood! Getting to experience different smells is a big deal to dogs, so this is sure to tickle their fancy. It's important to maintain a brisk pace while hiking to make the activity beneficial from a health perspective. You should carry a portable water dish and water bottles to keep your pup hydrated.

Soccer

Yes, you can indeed play soccer with your pooch. In the dog versus person version of the sport, your dog uses their paws or nose to pass the ball back to you after you kick it to them. Using an exercise ball made for dogs is recommended. Otherwise, you could inadvertently hurt them if you accidentally kick a regulation soccer ball at their body or face. You may also need to train your dog a bit to pass you the ball every now and then, or your dog may hijack the soccer ball.

Cycling

It's important to train your dog on proper technique before taking them out cycling. Teach them to run beside the bicycle — not ahead of it — without pulling on the leash. This is critical for the safety of both your dog and yourself, as well as motorists and fellow cyclists. You could invest in a springer, a device which absorbs some of the force if your dog does yank on their leash. It's designed to help you keep your balance.

Your dog's condition during the cycling session is another key consideration. When they're traveling on their paws while you're traveling on wheels, it's easy for your pup to overexert themselves. Keep a close eye on how they're faring at all times and give them a break or turn around if they seem spent. You may want to attach a dog bicycle trainer to your bike in case they're unable to finish the session.

Skijooring

If hitting the powder is more your style, you can share that experience with your dog. Skijooring is an activity where you connect your dog to you with a pull harness during cross-country skiing sessions. There are certain criteria your dog must meet in order to safely qualify for this activity, however: they must weigh at least 30 pounds and be in athletic condition. Meeting these qualifications is important because cross-country skiing provides a vigorous workout that can be intense.

Agility training

One activity that improves your dog's coordination while giving both of you a good cardiovascular workout is agility training. In this goal-oriented sport, you run beside your pooch as they complete an obstacle course. These obstacle courses often consist of hurdles, ladders and tunnels. You don't have to supply the obstacles, although you certainly can if you'd like. Some parks offer agility courses for use free of charge.

Swimming

As long as your dog enjoys time spent in the water, swimming is a great low-impact sport for the two of you to enjoy together. It's also beneficial for dogs who suffer from arthritis. Swimming is an excellent way to strengthen your dog's lungs and heart, bolster their endurance and work different muscle groups. It's a good idea to protect your vision with swimming goggles or a swimming mask while keeping an eye on your dog underwater — especially if you're swimming in a chlorinated pool. Never force your dog to swim if they don't want to, because doing so can be traumatizing for them. Also, make sure your dog can swim, as many breeds — such as bulldogs, pugs, corgis, basset hounds and boxers — can't.

Dancing

Yes, you read that right — you can, in fact, dance with your dog. Commonly known as musical freestyle, it involves following an upbeat choreographed dance routine while your pup performs tricks alongside you. Examples of tricks include weaving in between and around your legs and running in circles around you. Make sure you keep plenty of dog-training treats on hand to give them positive reinforcement for executing the tricks correctly.