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How to Exercise Your Dog

Updated on May 21, 2015

Exercising a Dog is Your Responsibility

If you own a dog, then you know that you are not only their friend but their caregiver and protector as well. You are responsible for seeing that they eat correctly, get routine check-ups and vaccinations, remain well groomed, avoid bad habits, and of course, exercise. Much the same as owning a husband, and sometimes with the same obstacles.

The difference between husbands and dogs however is that the latter will be more willing to please you the longer you are together. You will also have more control of the situation.

As with humans, dogs need their daily exercise to remain fit and active late into the dog years. It is your job to ensure that they stick to their diet and exercise plan.

Here are some guidelines for implementing a fitness routine for your pet. Before beginning any regimen, your dog should speak to his veterinarian to make sure he is healthy enough to begin an exercise program. If you are going to be using the same program for your husband, then he too should visit the vet as well.

Before You Begin

Don't rush your dog into the regimen or surprise him one early morning with a granola bar and new sneakers. You need to set a date on the calendar and use the time leading up to that day to encourage, nag, remind, threaten and cajole him.

This week should also be when you help your dog make changes in any unhealthy habits he may be enjoying. Clean out his stash of cookies and Pringles and start cutting back on the hours spent snacking in front of the television. He should no longer overindulge in alcohol, tobacco or computer games, and his caffeine consumption should be limited to the equivalent of only three pots of coffee per day.

Exercise Equipment

You may want to invest in some exercise equipment before you begin. Depending on your budget and whether or not you have a snobby breed, workout gear can be as low-key or high dollar as you like.

A few basics:

Exercise outfit--anyone who watches a fitness video knows that no exercise is effective unless you are wearing a specific uniform specifically designed for the program you have chosen. If your dog will be doing aerobics, yoga, martial arts, or certain dances he or she will need something made from lycra or a stretchable knit. Don't forget to accesorize with matching headband, collar, water bottle and a bag if your pet will be going to the gym.

For weightlifting, females must wear midriff baring sports bras and lycra pants. Male should wear gym shorts and go topless.

Swimming of course requires a sports brand swimsuit or trunks, goggles, and rubber cap. If a lot of time will be spent in the water, your dog might want to consider a full body wax to increase performance and to look more buff. This is not necessary for hairless breeds.

Leash--This is so that your dog can pull you along for his morning jog when you are still groggy and incapable of walking on your own. You will want to choose a leash strong enough to pull your weight and to endure a substantial amount of chewing, as your dog may at some time or another, wish to give up on his new physique.

Hottest Fitness Trend Video of The Day--do some research and find out what is the rage in the world of exercise. Buy two or three different styles to find out which one your dog is more willing to do.

Other things you might want:

Tennis Balls


Energy Chew Toys


Treadmill for rainy days

A cat or small rodent


There are four basic types of exercise: Aerobic, Calisthenic, Stretching, and Sleeping. A combination of all four is ideal for maximizing your efforts and seeing results.


Remember that hydrated is healthy! Encourage your dog to drink at least six-8 toilets of water per day to help replenish slobber.


Always begin an exercise routine with a series of stretches. Some excellent beginner stretches for your dog would be:

The Belly Drag: (dog raises from lying position to front legs, and drags belly across floor to beg for treats)

The Bow-wow: (dog bows until chest is on the floor to beg for treats)

The Belly Rub: (dog lies on back and makes pawing motion at you to earn a belly rub)

The Roll: (Dog lies floor and rolls from side to side)

The Advanced Roll: (Dog does the Roll but Bends body while on his back so that his head is near his rump)

The Poodle: (Dog balances and walks on back legs to see if a treat is on the counter.)

The Neck Twist: ( Dog tilts head from side to side while staring at you)

Downward Facing Dog: (Come on, I had to say it!)

Several reps should be done before and after the physical exercise.



Aerobic exercise is a must for cardiovascular health, but you will want to pace your dog if he seems overly enthusiastic. Begin slowly, and let your dog build stamina.

Try starting with a brisk walk for aerobics. If you want to gauge how far your dog travels, you will need two pedometers. Attach one to the front and one to the back feet.

After each walk or jog, add the numbers from both meters, then subtract the number of steps you carried or dragged your dog when he was too tired or stubborn to go on his own. This should give you an accurate idea of his mileage, plus if you are one of those mathematical geniuses, you can use the number to calculate your dog's BMI, the weight of the sun, and your own taxes.

Aerobic Exercises for Canines:

Snack Sprinting: Here is a great way to incorporate snack time with exercise. Choose an open, obstacle free location. Throw the snack as far away as possible, so that your dog has to run after it to eat. A nice low calorie dog biscuit should not add back the calories spent searching for the treat. For some dogs, releasing the cat or rodent is a good way to encourage a sprint or romp, but be sure to bring spares in case the first one gets lost or won't come down from the trees.

It is not advisable to use "snack sprinting indoors" if you are going to use cats, or very hard treats as incentive. A BBQ sandwich will work just as well.

Swimming: If your dog likes to get wet, then he or she may be willing to go straight for the high dive. If your dog doesn't know how to swim, consider classes or jump in yourself to demonstrate that perfect butterfly stroke.

Snack incentives work here too. If your dog can swim, float a snack out into the pool or lake on an innertube, or be conventional and throw a tennis ball.

If your dog doesn't like to get wet, you may need to row him out to the deep water and have someone on land crinkle a food wrapper to get his attention.

Romping: This is a classic dog exercise that never gets old. With larger breeds, you simply run around the house or yard, encouraging them to chase and wrestle you. For small breeds this may mean having them chase your sock or house-slipper while you work or play.

Dancing: Dancing is a fun way to shed pounds and tone those soft spots. There are tons of great dancercise videos on the market. Introduce your pet to Zumba, Hula, or Bellydance.

Calisthenics and Muscle Toning

Its all well and good to burn those calories, but some muscle groups require specific target exercises. According to Canine Fitness Expert B.B. Wulf, A.C.P.S.A; these are the four top toning exercises for your pooch:

Leg Lifts: For Males, this is as simple as making them do ten reps per leg each time they visit a tree or hydrant. Or, if they prefer, they can do one repetition on twenty different objects. Be sure to change up those legs though. We want sexy thighs on both sides.

For females, leg lifts might be achieved by offering belly rubs.

Jumping Jack Russel: Dogs can't do conventional jumping jacks, but they love doing these leaps. Take your caged cat, (rodent, bird, annoying high-pitched toy, etc) and hang it high out of reach. Let your dog jump ten to twenty times, then check the cat's pulse. If it is in the safe zone and the cat seems unfazed, allow the dog to do twenty more jumps.

Canine Crunchers: Attach a small backpack to your dog's back and have him do standing side twists to try to bite the offending object. Add some weight, such as dried milk bones to really lean those obliques.

Stair-climbing: This takes two helpers. Have someone stand upstairs and call the dog's name. When he gets to the top, call him back down. You can also throw a ball or snack up the stairs. If you don't have stairs, climibing onto and off of furniture is an adequate substitute.

Daily Routine

Print out several copies of the new workout schedule and post them in locations where they will serve as reminders, such as the refrigerator, the bedroom, and the television. Here is an example of what it should look like:

Early Morning:

  • Breakfast (such as whole grain kibble, water, coffee)
  • Light stretches
  • Brisk walk outside with appropriate stops for leg lifts and/or power squats
  • Short sprint to chase neighbors cat or a bird
  • Cool down stretches
  • Nap

Late Morning:

  • Snack (energy bar, more coffee)
  • light stretches or yoga
  • Few laps around the yard or pool
  • Nap


  • Lunch: Grilled tomato, Water, part of the sofa
  • Warm-up stretches
  • Two hours of aerobic combination from above choices
  • Brisk walk with leg lifts and/or squats
  • Cool down stretches
  • Nap

Late Afternoon:

  • Stretches
  • Trip outside for leg-lifts
  • Snack (leftover sofa for fiber, water, something gross found in the yard)
  • Pre-dinner games such as "Toss the Snack", "You Threw The D*** Ball, You Fetch It", "Wrap The Leash Around A Tree", or "Delivery Pizza Keep-Away"
  • Nap


  • Stretches
  • Dinner: Usually the ruined pizza
  • Short drag around the block
  • Cool down stretches
  • Hot shower
  • Four Ibuprofen and a glass of red wine
  • Massage
  • Bedtime

Final Thoughts

Your dog will probably hate you for the first week or two, and you should make sure your insurance is paid up in case he or she decides to retaliate against your authority. However, after dropping a collar size or two, and seeing admiring stares from others, your pet will lick your feet, hands, face, legs, etc. in thanks.

You may even come to find one day that your best friend is self-motivated, and took that morning walk earlier than usual, (you may get a call from Ms Jones down the way about her overturned garbage cans), stretched up to reach the cake left on the counter, sprinted after the paper-boy, climbed stairs with muddy feet, and wallowed on the clean clothes. Don't forget to reward this perseverance and dedication!


This hub was written for fun, and not meant to replace the advice of a real canine fitness trainer. In real life I am neither a vet nor fitness trainer, and I do not condone exercise of any kind. Exercise is a bad habit and can lead to obsession and knobbly knees.

For the sake of your pet and all others involved, put up your feet, eat some chocolate, and read more hubs!

Universal sign for "I am NOT going to the gym today."
Universal sign for "I am NOT going to the gym today." | Source

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