You love your dog like family. And if fitness is on your agenda this year, you can get your dog involved in the action with a little patience, training, and commitment.
Sure, you could leash up your dog and go for a jog, but the best dog exercise is also an opportunity to reinforce your dog’s basic obedience training. Working with Kate Moore, a Certified Dog Trainer, we put together a list of activities you can do with your dog - that don’t involve running.
- Take Your Dog on a Hike
According to a recent article, more than 15 million Americans will travel with their dog this year alone. Leashing up your dog and hitting the trails is a great way to get exercise, socialize your dog, and stimulate your dog’s senses.
“Mental stimulation is just as important as physical stimulation to your dog,” Moore said. “The sights, smells, and sounds of even a short hike can do wonders for your pup.”
But be careful – not all hiking trails are dog friendly. Check out the listings at hikewithyourdog.com for pup-friendly trails in your area. Make sure your dog has proper identification, and is on flea/tick medication before heading on a hike.
- Dog Push Ups
Did you know your dog can do push-ups, too? Teaching and practicing dog push ups is a great way to reinforce training, and help you build muscle at the same time.
What is a dog push up? A dog push up is a consecutive series of basic obedience commands. The series is:
- 1. Sit
- 2. Down
- 3. Stand
- 4. Repeat
“Most owners teach their dogs sit and down, but do not work on stand.” Moore said. “Dog push ups are a great way to bond with your dog, and help your dog re-focus on you. You can teach stand by food-luring your dog from “down” to a standing position while saying “Stand!”. Repeat this process several times with the food lure, until your dog is able to complete the task on cue.”
Once your dog understands the dog push up procedure, get down and do some together! For each push up your dog does, complete 3 yourself. Your dog will love practicing with you.
- Fetch with Burpees
We don’t need to tell you that burpees are one of the most effective ways to incorporate full-body conditioning with cardio. Don’t just stand there while you throw the ball to your dog. As soon as that ball is in the air, hit the ground with a series of burpees until your dog returns.
“If you’ve never exercised in front of your dog before, take caution. Your dog may be confused or startled by you completing burpees in front of him,” says Moore. “He is not used to seeing you jump around. He may also be very excited, and think you are looking to play! Bring a handful of treats to your fetch session, and reward your dog the first few times you complete a burpee if he behaves calmly.”
Not interested in doing burpees? Try any of these short exercises instead.
- Lunges for Paw
Stand in front of your dog. Put your dog in a sit-stay. With your leading foot, step backward in a backward-lunge. Hold your knee about one-inch from the ground. Then, extend your hand and ask your dog for paw. Engage your core and hold the lunge until your dog completes the command. Come back up to the starting position. Then, complete the circuit again with your other leg. Your dog will love helping you get stronger - especially if you give her treats while you work!
- Puppy Planks with Leave-It.
Put your dog in a down. Then lie down on your stomach. Put a tasty treat on your back. Tell your dog to “leave it”. Then, get into plank and hold for thirty seconds. Before you come out from plank, give your dog a release cue, such as “okay!” or “get it!”. Let your dog grab the treat from your back while you keep your core engaged.
“If your pup is too small to grab the treat from your back, try placing it on the ground between your hands,” Moore suggests. “The excitement of your dog waiting for the treat is sure to distract you from your burning abs!”
- Arm Definition Scent Training
Bring your dog to an enclosed, distraction-free area, such as your living room, or a fenced in park. Bring a handful of delicious, strong-scented treats, and your free weights of choice. Put the free weights on the ground at your feet. Then take a treat in your hand. Present the treat to your dog in a closed fist, so he knows you have something yummy. Then, toss the treat about eight feet away while saying “Go find it!”. Pick up the weights and complete some basic arm exercises until your dog returns.
“You’ll want to start by throwing the treat a bit closer to you at first. Your dog will rely on visual location – following the treat with his eyes – before he begins to develop strong scent location. Gradually you can increase the distance once your dog can anticipate that “Go find it!” means “There is a treat on the ground somewhere!”.
Owning a dog is an excellent opportunity to get up and moving every day. If you need motivation to get moving, try working with one of our personal trainers. Your first session is free!