Having a dog also means having the best trainer you could possibly ask for. Most healthy dogs are incredibly energetic creatures, some active breeds more enthusiastic than others, who like nothing more than to play with their owners, especially if that includes runs and workouts. Training with your pet is an excellent way of bonding with the dog through a useful exercise that will benefit both of you.
Your pup can also be a great motivator because unlike you, canines never rarely lack any enthusiasm, and their over-excitement can be just the thing you need to jump out of bed and put your sneakers on. Even more so if you have a hyperactive dog.
Make sure that you don’t pressure your pooch into training with you during winter if the breed isn't suited for that weather and low temperatures. The same applies for hot weather and workouts in scorching sun. Dogs will definitely be up for it, but there likely to be health consequences.
If you plan on having more serious workouts with your pup, you should always consult both the doctor and the vet to ensure that both of you are up for it. Some breeds are genetically predisposed towards workouts, but it is always better to double check. You can also use a dog fitness tracker to keep a track of your pet's activity levels and overall health while going through workouts.
Before moving on to serious workouts, there are some things you should keep in mind.
Start Slowly, and Bring Your Dog Into Shape
Just as people need an adapting period before they can consistently run for miles, so do dogs. If you're preparing for challenging jogs, at first, run smaller distances to teach him about the minor things that are essential for longer runs later on.
Show to your pet that he is an active participant in the workout but don’t try to pull him out of his comfort zone by dragging him or forcing him to run. The dog should quickly develop his own rhythm, and you should do your best to respect it and work around it.
Prevent Excessive Sniffing
Dogs instinctively sniff everything along the running path to mark the space and learn the way back. However, when you go for a run, the primary activity should, of course, be running, so try to dissuade your dog from sniffing excessively. It divides his attention, and it is necessary to prevent it if you want your dog focused.
In order to do this, give your pooch a few minutes alone with the route you plan on using so that he can sniff around and check all points of interest. Once he gets to know the path better, he will be more relaxed and willing to run without interruptions, making it a routine.
Know Your Dog
It is always a good idea to know the specifics of the breed as they can vary significantly from one another. Some are made for long runs or more strenuous workouts while others will develop health problems from the same workload.
Brachycephalic breeds like Pugs and French Bulldogs have a flat snout and find it more difficult to work out, while some bigger ones like Dobermans and German Shepherds are more prone to canine bloat. It is a potentially fatal condition that can occur if a dog starts exercising on a full stomach.
To avoid damaging pet's joints and muscles, large breeds of dogs must have limited physical activity until they reach maturity, which is between 18 and 24 months.
Always Use Positive Reinforcement
Whenever you want your canine to learn something, whether it's going for a run or learning to sit on command, always pet him and reward him with treats for positive behavior. Shouting and forcing your dog to do anything will not accomplish your goals.
The same applies to running with dogs. Use the rules of positive reinforcement dog training after every successful run in the beginning, because it’s vital that your dog realizes that he has done something positive so that he can do so again.
Use a Short Leash, and Do Some Off-leash Training
Dogs can be very unpredictable, especially when it comes to new activities. Unless you keep him on a leash while running, he can cause trouble when exploring new routes or while doing new things before you get the chance to stop the dog.
Yanking the leash too strongly or too often while running or exercising will hurt your dog too. The best approach is to train your dog to walk on a leash, then go through off-leash training and also use a short leash when you have to.
15 Fun Ways to Workout With Your Dog
1. Run as One
There is an alternative to keeping your pooch on a leash that can be more interesting for both you and your dog. If you want to avoid holding the leash all the time while running, a great alternative to consider is an hands-free dog leash which you can safely attach to your waist.
You should also look into “Running with Dogs” organizations which are a great example of how hands free leashes are used, such as CaniX. CaniX started as a way to keep Huskies in shape during long summer months when they were unable to pull sleds. It is a sport where the dog is connected with the owner by a stretch rope while they run in tandem.
Today, this sport is experiencing popularity growth throughout many European countries and is an excellent way of improving the relationship with your dog. This form of exercise shines if you lack the energy for a run as it is great for motivation and bonding.
Skijoring is a winter sport and you have to know how to ski in order to do this activity with your dog. All you need for him is a strong harness to attach the rope onto it. After that, you just hold tight and let your Fido pull you. The dog could get frostbite on his feet from this activity, so you might need to invest in dog booties to protect his feet.
3. Play Frisbee
It's not secret that dogs love Frisbees. This can quickly become a physical activity for both of you if after throwing the Frisbee you run along with your dog. This will stimulate his competitive spirit as he will always try to get the Frisbee before you do and run faster each time.
When your dog gets really good at this, for an extra challenge, try to employ some of the rules and tricks of “Disc Dog” which is one of the more popular dog sports.
4. Riding a Bike and Skates
This is like a combination of walking and running. It's a great cardio exercise, but it's more demanding because you'll have to teach your doggo to control his competitive spirit and listen to your instructions.
You'll need a special type of bike dog leash that's similar to the already mentioned hands-free leash. Here, the routine is of great importance too, so avoid making long breaks between workouts or your dog might forget everything that has been learned.
5. Doga (Yoga With Dogs)
Doga, an expression derived from the words Dog and Yoga, originated a few years ago in the United States. Since then, it has gained more supporters, at least among dog owners. It's a way of working out that involves connecting with your dog through meditation, exercise, and yoga, and it has tons of benefits for both of you.
Always avoid the temptation of forcing your dog to workout. The most important part is that the pet gets the most basic walking, playtime and exercise that's essential for health; anything above that has to be treated as supplementary and more carefully.
The fact that some dogs continue to run doesn’t mean that you should allow them; they can’t tell you when they are tired or hungry. Keep an eye on your pet at all times and ensure that he is physically and mentally fit for workouts at all times.
If the dog is lagging and slowing down, with a lowered tail or ears, something is wrong, and it's time to stop. It’s important to start slowly and build up the routine; exercise moderately and don't challenge your pooch too soon. Running in the early morning is best to avoid people and summer heat.
Even something simple as a game of fetch can be fun. This activity is all that your dog needs to fulfill his exercise needs for the day. It's easy to organize and you can fit it even in the busiest schedule.
You can throw a wooden stick, a ball or anything else as long as your dog can fetch it. You don’t even have to go to a (dog) park if you have enough room in your backyard. You can also play fetch indoors if the weather is bad.
7. Fetch and Run
If throwing a ball or stick is not enough of a workout for you personally, you can put a twist on the classic game of fetch by racing your dog after you throw a ball or stick, and see who gets to the item first. Your dog will love the race and you will get some additional exercise.
8. Ball Games
Playing fetch is not the only thing you can play with your dog and a ball. Try baseball or tennis. Just hit the ball with the bat or the racket and let your dog run around to get it back. Another great ball game to try with dogs is soccer. Even if you are not a fan of the sport itself, running around the park with your pooch and kicking the soccer ball is a great way to get some exercise.
Swimming is one of the best exercises for both humans and dogs. Whether you have access to a swimming pool or you can swim in the ocean, this activity is fun and full of benefits, and it's a workout that allows you to burn calories without stress on your joints.
If your dog is not a great swimmer, you might want to get a doggie life vest to ensure his safety. Keep an eye on your canine at all times when you swim and get out of the water when he gets tired.
Everybody loves dancing, even dogs (in their own way). Your pet will need to have some obedience training first but with that and a bit of practice on his footwork, you can work out choreography to any music you like. You can teach the dog steps to some specific types of dance or you can simply do the Freestyle.
This is a fun workout for both of you and if you think your dog is a great dancer, you can even try a dog-dancing competition.
This is very similar to skijoring because your dog will pull you while you are on rollerblades but you don’t need any snow to have some fun with your dog. If you decide to do this, choose an area without any traffic, like a park.
Flyball is a very high-energy activity and also a competitive dog sport. In competition, dogs are a part of teams and the rules are similar to a human relay race. That means that dogs race along the course with four hurdles.
At the end of the first part of the course, there is a box with tennis balls. Dogs have to take the ball out of the box and get it back to the start where another dog waits for him, ready to take off. While there isn’t much you have to do in competition, you can get some exercise as well while you train your dog for the race.
13. Free Running
If you prefer giving your pupper more freedom and want to run without any leash at all, do so in a safe environment with minimal risks. Remember that generally, all dogs must be leashed because animals are unpredictable. For off-leash exercise and runs, look for a self-contained area without traffic and without people.
14. Dog Tag
This is like the children's game we all used to play. Start by tagging your pup and then run away from him so he can chase you. You can do this at a park or in your yard since you don’t need a lot of room for it. If you have a puppy, he might not know that he should chase you and it might be better to reverse the roles and chase him instead.
15. Obstacle Course
Creating an obstacle course for some agility training and exercise is one of the most beneficial ways for both of you to exercise. You can also make an obstacle course with human workout options added at every station. For example, you can have bosu ball, hula hoop, jump rope, etc. stop at each station to do the specific exercise.
If your pupper is well-trained, he will wait for you to finish your obstacles. Even if he is not and he goes on with his course without you, both of you will still get some exercise out of it. Train your dog all the routine techniques and race him for who's going to finish their stations first.