Exercise With Your Pet! Turn Playtime Into a Great Workout For You

Dr. Sophia Yin on exercising with your dog in the new year.

Do you ever look at your dog and feel guilty that you’re working out instead of playing with him? For those who love to multi-task and spend time with their dog, here is a quick 4-exercise workout you can combine with training and play sessions with your dog.

Designed by Hideshi Okamota of Hideshi’s FitnessGarage (, this workout is meant for elite athletes as well as past couch potatoes with dogs. As a physical therapist, and former NCAA track couch, football conditioning coach, and coach to several Olympic athletes, Hideshi’s philosophy is to work the many inner muscles that form the support framework for your larger muscles. As a result, these exercises improve your conditioning, decrease the likelihood of injuries and increase your athletic performance dramatically. You can perform them alone in this short routine, in between 400-meter running intervals with your dog, or as part of a longer cardio workout.

How Does your Dog Work into the Exercise Routine?

For this set of outdoor exercises you will be working simultaneously on the down-stay exercise for your dog or playing fetch, or alternating between the two. For instance you can have your dog lying down while you exercise and reward him frequently enough so he stays in a down-stay or you can play fetch and get as many repetitions as you can in while he’s running.

What’s the benefit to incorporating your exercise into your dog’s training?

You turn the most boring dog-training exercise ever—the down-stay— into a fun routine. As an added benefit, all of the odd exercise movements you’ll be making that would usually serve as big distractions to your dog now become his cue to stay in a down-stay longer since they are often followed by a reward. The benefit of combining the down-stay with fetch is that you’ll still have something to work on if your dog gets tired of fetch before you’ve finished your portion of the exercise routine.

What You’ll Need

For this workout you’ll just need treats for your dog. I generally use my dog’s daily allotment of kibble so that he won’t get fat. You’ll also need a location where it’s safe to have your dog off leash or where he can play fetch. And of course you’ll need water for your dog (and for yourself) so that both of you can stay hydrated.

Let’s get started: To see the routine, watch the following video:

For more videos showing how to exercise while training your dog:

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

11 ways to get moving with your pet

Within each of our four-legged friends lies a naturally gifted athlete. Even the tiniest Chihuahua or pudgiest Persian possesses amazing physical abilities. Unfortunately, too many of our pets have been benched, resulting in an epidemic of obesity rivaling that of Americans. In fact, about 44 percent of dogs are overweight or obese and 57 percent of cats are too heavy. When pets gain weight, they increase their risk of arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and behavioral problems. To help keep your pet—and you—trim, try these tips for squeezing in a little exercise and fun every day.

Indoor games

1. High and low. This game is like squats for your dog or cat. With a kibble or piece of food in one hand, have your pet lie down or sit. For dogs, lower the treat and coax your dog to jump up and follow it. Then quickly lower the reward again and return the dog to a sitting or lying position. An ideal “high and low” is when your dog explodes upward and immediately lays down again. Repeat this three to five times before giving the food.

For cats, place their food on a counter or table (add a pinch of tuna or salmon for extra incentive) and have the cat jump up to get it. Return the bowl to the floor and repeat several times.

2. Hide and seek. This is similar to fetch but without the throwing—and resulting broken lamps. Show your dog a favorite toy. Lead your dog into another room while you hide the toy from your dog’s view. Make the hiding place obvious at first, like the toy peeking out from under a pillow. You may have to help your dog find the toy the first couple of tries. When your dog finds the toy, praise and give a kibble or piece of food. Hide the toy in progressively more challenging places as the game continues. This game is so fun you won’t need food after a couple of rounds.

3. Find the food. Cats are natural predators. To tap into the instinct and encourage your cat to get its move on, try dividing the food into small bowls placed throughout your house. Have your cat watch as you “hide” the bowls. Your cat will “hunt” the food throughout the day. This is one of the best ways to get corpulent cats on their feet and burning calories.

4. Follow the leader. This classic indoor game uses the same skills as “come and get it” below. Show your dog or cat a favorite toy and call her to you. Walk around your house with your pet following you. Go as fast as you like just don’t blame your pet for any broken items.

5. Obstacle course. Set up an indoor obstacle course made of empty drawers, buckets, pillows, boxes, or broomsticks. Have your dog jump, crawl, and navigate around furniture and objects for an intellectually stimulating activity. Playtime is about togetherness, not the quality of your toys. Get creative and resourceful to make even the dullest day bright with love and excitement.

6. Remote-controlled toys. Technology has provided pet owners an almost endless supply of remote-controlled toys. Many dogs and cats will chase a remote-controlled car or interactive talking toy. Look for a pet-friendly toy or car that has few small parts and is durable enough to withstand a paw strike or bite. Don’t scold your pet if it destroys the toy fun happens.

Outdoor games

1. Fetch. One of the most entertaining activities for many dogs is fetch. Use a fun toy and start with baby throws. Get your dog’s attention and throw the ball or toy a couple of feet away. When he reaches the toy, praise him. As soon as he puts the toy in his mouth, take a few steps away while calling him to you. As your dog begins to approach, continue offering praise. When he reaches you, give the command “release” and show him a treat. Most dogs will trade the toy for a goody. Repeat this sequence, each time throwing the toy a little farther and stop giving treats after two or three trips.

2. Come and get it. Show your dog a favorite toy, such as a ball or Frisbee. As you do this, quickly bend over at the waist and extend your arms downward. This nonverbal communication cue signals you want to play. While you’re bending over, say, “Come and get it!” As soon as you’re certain you have your dog’s attention, turn and run away. When your dog gets within three or four feet, stop and offer praise and a tiny treat. If your dog isn’t interested in chasing you, don’t chase the dog because doing so may teach that it’s a game to run from you.

3. Obstacle course. Set up a basic agility or obstacle course in your yard. My favorite fun fitness device is a climbing obstacle or ramp. Walking up and down uses your dog’s largest muscle masses in the rear legs. Weaving poles and jumping bars are also great ways to make exercise fun. While all of these tools can be bought online or a pet store, you can easily make your own with a little ingenuity. Ramps can be as simple as wood raised on blocks and weaving poles can be made from dowels or broomsticks. Dogs want to learn new skills, just like people do. Teaching old dogs new tricks might not only help them lose weight but also stay mentally healthy.

4. Stair mutts and hill hounds. A simple technique for healthy, overweight dogs is to find a hilly trail or flight of stairs and walk up and down. (Before you walk your dog on stairs or hills, ask your veterinarian to evaluate your dog’s knees and hips. Obese dogs can put more stress on their joints, resulting in higher frequency of injuries.) Maintain a moderate pace and avoid sharp turns or jumps. Five to 10 minutes of solid hill or stair climbing is a great workout for any pudgy pooch. If you have stairs in your home, feed your cat in places that make her go up or down them.

5. Swimming. If your dog likes to swim, indulge. Many breeds, such as Retrievers, seem hard-wired to dive right in. For dogs with joint injuries or arthritis, swimming is an excellent exercise option. For many cats, swimming (bathing or water in general) is often less than enjoyable.

Exercising your pet can be as basic as shaking a piece of yarn or as complex as an agility-course competition. Find an activity that suits both you and your pet and do it consistently. Add new routes, games, and toys on a regular basis. While exercise certainly won’t replace feeding fewer calories when it comes to your dog or cat losing weight, it is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle for both pets and people. When you and your pet move together, you celebrate one of the oldest, most unique, and most extraordinary bonds our planet has ever known.

Sections of this article were excerpted from Dr. Ward’s book, Chow Hounds-Why America’s Dogs Are Getting Fatter: A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives (HCI Publications, March 2010)

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Roll Over Extension

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet lifted, and hold the toy overhead (as shown). Roll onto your right shoulder, turning over on your stomach, and extend your legs behind you, lifting them off the floor. Lift your chest and bend your elbows to the ground, holding your pup's toy in front of you. (If your dog knows how to roll over they can do this with you!).

Turn back over your left shoulder and return to your start position. Repeat 5 times turning to the right, and then 5 times turning over to the left.

Dog Playtime – Great Activities You Can Enjoy With Your Dog

Dog Playtime – Here is an introduction to some great things people do with their dogs.

Most activities welcome all dogs, whether purebred or of mixed breed heritage. Some of these activities are classed as “working dog” activities, but are also done on a recreational basis, or as a public service. Some dog activities are purely recreational in nature, while others are competitive dog sports. Many of these activities may be new to you. I have chosen my links based upon how welcoming they are to the merely curious.

People who play with their dog, stay with their dog.

When people and dogs do things together it is good news all around. Many of these activities provide the structure that helps people learn to better communicate with their dogs. The dogs have a better opportunity to learn good manners. That makes them easier to live with and less likely to be given up.

The activities help people get in touch with one another to share information. That also helps people to learn about dogs, to avoid problems, and to solve them in a healthy way. The activities provide exercise in a fun way that boosts the relationship. The exercise, in turn, reduces boredom. A dog that exercises with its human is less likely to have behavior problems. A wonderful side benefit is that these activities can be a mental boost for humans and dogs alike.

Do we need lessons on having fun with our dogs?

All the evidence is, yes, we need to learn how to have fun with our dogs. Too many people just don’t know how much fun their dog can be. Their relationship is one way they haven’t learned to communicate. They need help learning how to have fun with their dog. When they enjoy their dog they are motivated to work through problems, to solve them instead of giving up on the dog.

And yes, your mutt can play too.

The big surprise to me was how many activities I can do with my mixed breed dogs. And the variety of sports, games, and just plain good times was also an eye opener. Many of the activities listed here will be new to you. Some of them you may have seen on TV, but never thought of getting involved in yourself. Well plunge right in and explore. You and your dog will be glad you did.

Fun things to do with your dog: Games, Sports and Just Good Fun

Agility – in, out, over and through this sport is all about working as a team
Animal Assisted Activities and Animal Assisted Therapy – the warm head of a friendly pet can soothe a lonely heart
Bikejoring – some dogs love to run. Adding the responsibility of teamwork adds to the fun.
Canicross – dog powered running for those who want to share their running goals with their best friend
Carting – channel the desire to pull into harness work that lets the dog feel useful and skilled
Coursing and racing – root instinct drives the joy of running with purpose in coursing and racing
Day trips and vacations – the dogs need not be left behind, bring them along for even more fun
Disc Dog or Flying Disc – if there was ever meaning to jump for joy this is it, jumping with achievement
Dock Jumping or Dock Diving – dogs who excel in this sport are love to show they can do it further and better
Dog Camps – Activity Sampler – too many choices? take a vacation with your dog and sample a variety
Dog Parks and Dog Walks: Socialization and Off-leash Play – a joy for the social dog, think tot lot
Dog Scootering – some dogs love to run. Adding the responsibility of teamwork adds to the fun.
Earthdog Trials – instinct, drive, and flying dirt – what more could an earthdog want
Flyball – excitement, speed, and focus, a sport for dogs driven to do it faster
Flygility – racing and teamwork to build confidence and a sense of belonging
Games – the most basic of interactions, fun ways of practicing skills of hunting, fetching, working together
Herding – it’s all about the dog’s instinct and desire to control and direct movement for the pack leader
Hiking, Backpacking and Dog Walks – sharing our quiet moments, our contemplations is the essence of being a pack
Hunt and Field Trials – working as a team is what drives these dogs
Kids and Dogs – dogs and kids can be a wonderful pairing with a little learning to keep it safe and fun

Mushing – for dogs who love to pull and people who want to let them
Musical Freestyle – the ultimate in teamwork is working with rhythm and coordination
Obedience – precision, focus and a great activity for perfectionist dogs, those who love to get it exactly right
Performance Art (Tricks) – curiosity and a willingness to try new things makes this fun
Pet Facilitated Therapy – for the dog who loves attention what better way to get it than visiting people in need
Precision Drill Teams – the excitement of success, of meeting a challenge and being a part of the team
Pulling – great for dogs who love to pull, and people who want to let them
Racing – for the dogs who love not just running but being faster than the next one
Rally Obedience – more focus on teamwork, less focus on precision, fun and relaxed for human and dog
Ring Sport – a sport that says “I can be a contributing member of the family” Some dogs thrive on responsibility
Rollerblade – a fun way for dogs and humans to share exercise and fresh air
Schutzhund – tracking, obedience, protection, schutzhund is all about what a well rounded dog is all about
Search and Rescue – for some making a difference is important, that includes dogs, they know it matters
Skijoring – dogs love to pull, people love to ski. Put the two together and you have skijoring.

Exercise With Your Pet! Turn Playtime Into a Great Workout For You - pets

Getting Along with Your Pet Posted by Guest Author on February 24th, 2014

There’s nothing your dog likes more than spending time with you. Pair that with your dog’s need for exercise, since our pets can be overweight just like humans, and playtime is a great way to bond as well as keep you and your dog in shape. I enjoy taking long walks or jogging around the block or park with my hyper Boxer mix, but sometimes we like to switch things up and do something a little more creative. Here are a few options of different exercises you can do with your pet to stay in shape, and burn your pup’s energy.

Photo credit: sombraala

Channel your dog’s natural energy for chasing things by playing a game of fetch. Whether you’re in your backyard or the local park, you can throw a ball or frisbee. While you’ll be working your arm muscles, your dog will be running around. Mix things up even more by running to another part of the yard with the frisbee before throwing it again for your pooch. Alternatively, if your dog is a breed that loves water, visit a local dog-friendly lake, where you can play fetch with your dog in the water.

Amp Up Your Exercise Routine

Do your usual exercise routine, but find ways to include your dog. For one, after you do a set of pushups, take a break and get Fido to do his own set of pushups by giving him the command to “lay down” and then “stand” repeatedly. Take turns until you’re on to your next exercise, such as squats. To do squats, grab one of his favorite toys and ask him to stand in front of you. When you squat, bring the toy down and gently tap him on his head. When you stand up again, lift the toy to get the dog to stand on his hind legs or jump. For smaller breeds, you can also toss the toy in the air as a way to encourage them to jump.

Yoga isn’t just for humans anymore. Some studios and instructors are now offering doga, which is yoga for you and your pooch. While a tad controversial, the people who participate love the experience because it’s both an exercise using the natural added weight of the dog, as well as a chance to bond. Massage can also be used, in addition to gentle stretching for both the dog and their owners. After all, isn’t the downward dog pose named after the way many dogs ask to play?

Enroll Your Pooch in Agility Training

Any kind of training is good mental stimulation for your dog, but agility training will have them exercising as well. As you and a trainer teach your dog to go through an obstacle course — including running up inclines, winding around poles and jumping over hurdles — you’ll both be getting a high energy workout. Once you have your dog trained on some of these obstacles, you can even create an obstacle course all your own in the backyard. Perhaps put orange cones out for your dog to run around, and used construction equipment toys for your dog to jump over.

In addition to agility training, there are other sports that you and your pooch can participate in too. Perhaps enroll your dog in a tracking or herding class. Flyball is also growing in popularity, as it combines obstacle courses with racing.

Find Dog-Friendly Events in Your Area

Many cities host events where they encourage you to bring your pets. In Georgia, they host a Run with the Dogs 5K This event is not only great exercise but a wonderful way to socialize your dog too. Check and see if there are any similar events in your area. Another alternative is to join a local holiday parade and have your dog walk with you, whether he’s wearing a costume or not!

While your dog will always appreciate a walk around the block, there’s other ways to keep you — and him — motivated while staying fit. Sure some of these ideas, especially ones that involve training, may require a few treats to get him to do what you want, but the exercise he’ll get at the same time will surely outweigh the small amount of calories he’ll be eating.

Michelle Rebecca is an aspiring writer, blogger, and new mama to a 1-year-old boxer mix rescue. She has a passion for the Internet, and loves how it connects people across the globe. She loves that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.

Kitty parade

Instead of immediately putting food dishes down for your kitty, walk around the house first, taking your cat for a “walk” as they follow their food. A bite or two every few minutes will reward them for following you, so they don't lose interest. Even better, combine this with feeding your cat dry food from a food-dispensing treat ball instead of a regular bowl at the end of the walk, and feed canned or pouch food from a shallow dish at other times. (Cats love being fed several times a day, just keep the amounts sensible so they don’t gain weight).

Humans are never prey: Be aware — never allow your cat to use your fingers, toes, ankles, etc. as “prey” — otherwise you’ll be teaching your cat that hunting people is appropriate. Since this is painful and can quickly turn dangerous — not to mention being hard to break once it becomes established — don’t let it start. It might seem cute when they are a small kitten, but when they are a full-sized adult hunter with nearly inch-long fangs and razor-sharp claws, it will be anything but cute!

Keep it real: Make toy movements realistic for your cat — watch a real mouse or bird to see how prey animals really act and move, then make sure the toys mimic that during playtime with your cat. Videos are a great resource a simple internet search will turn up thousands of examples.

Don’t be afraid to DIY: Simple toys can be made in seconds using things you already have at home. Cats get bored easily, so rotating toys, or giving her a toy designed for only a few minutes of play is a smart solution. Look around, and you’ll find dozens of great sources of for-free fun! A plastic bottle cap is a fun toy for batting around that you can simply recycle once she tires of. Cardboard boxes can become castles that need to be conquered, and an empty plastic bottle (clean and dry, of course) can serve as an all-in-one dispenser of treats and mental stimulation. Your only limit is your imagination! A quick internet search will yield rich results, if you’re coming up short on ideas.

Keep it fun and keep it varied, but most of all – keep it safe.

Watch the video: 10 minute Workout with your Dog at Home! (May 2021).