Tips for Exercising With Your Dog

Young woman practicing downward facing dog pose playing with her pet in the living room

59.3% of dogs worldwide are overweight or obese. Studies have shown that dogs who are overweight or obese do not live as long as their leaner counterparts and are at an increased risk of getting cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and more.

Luckily, a healthy controlled diet and regular exercise can prevent your dog from becoming overweight or obese.

Often when one thinks of exercising their dog, they envision walking their canine on a leash, but there are plenty of other activities that can be enjoyed for a much healthier, happier lifestyle.

How much exercise does your dog need a day?

Sporting, herding or working breeds like German shepherds, retrievers and collies may need an hour or more of exercise daily.

Breeds with squashed faces like bulldogs or pugs may only need 20-30 minutes per day because they’re prone to overheating and have trouble breathing.

As always, check with your dog’s vet before starting or changing any type of exercise regime. They will likely advise you to start out slowly and work your way up to more activity to prevent overexertion, reduce the risk of injury and lessen aches and pains associated with using muscles that may have been dormant.

If they’re not getting enough exercise, they may show negative behaviours that include chewing, excessive barking, destroying items or furniture and house-soiling.

Run with your dog

Speaking of running, dogs in the wild are not accustomed to running long distances, they’re much closer to sprinters rather than cross-country runners. Also, remember that some breeds are better at running than others and age is another important consideration.

Those younger than eighteen months haven’t finished developing all their bones and muscles, so sustained and strenuous activity is discouraged.

Running may not be recommended for older dogs if they are developing osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease or whose bones, muscles and cartilage are not as strong as they once were. Many healthy adult dogs can benefit from running. If you're not a jogger, they can:

  • Accompany you on leash while you walk
  • Burn off some steam at the local dog park
  • Play catch, fetch and tug-of-war for a good workout

Swim with your dog

When exercising, sometimes we overlook swimming, but this is a great low-impact sport that comes naturally to most dogs.

While many people believe that all dogs are born swimmers, some breeds are better in the water than others. Canines with tiny, short, skinny legs are usually not very good at dog-paddling, while some breeds are so accustomed to swimming they even have the liquid in their names, like the Portuguese Water Dog and the Irish Water Spaniel.

Before you both get wet, you may want to take your dog to a nice, quiet, shallow spot and wade in with them.

Virgin swimmers should never be thrown into a deep lake or pond without testing their abilities. For those who aren’t great at staying afloat, you can buy a life jacket for them.

Doggy yoga

Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean a hard-core, cardio workout. Many people enjoy yoga for better health and relaxation. Doga, or yoga for dogs, is another great way to get in shape with your pet without breaking much of a sweat. This ancient practice is growing in popularity with both humans and their dogs.

Look for yoga classes in your area that allow pet participation or you can find a great deal of information online. There’s also a plethora of internet videos available that show how you can do a “downward facing dog” pose with your pooch.

Helping your dog stay active and healthy will help them live longer and happier lives, keeping you and your best friend together as long as possible.