8 Tips for Exercising With Your Pet

  • Couple jogging with dog
    How to Exercise With Your Pet
    If you’re a pet owner, you’re always looking to include your pet in what you’re doing, and exercising is no exception. From running with dogs to trying out cat yoga, it’s important to consider which workouts are appropriate for your pet, and whether exercising with pets will be as effective as exercising solo. In addition to making sure it’s the right activity, ensure you’re doing it in a safe way by following some basic tips to create a pet-friendly fitness workout.

  • Woman walking dogs
    1. Get off the beaten path.
    Most dogs thrive in open spaces, away from cars and crowds. Hiking and trail walking, along with snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in the wintertime, are pet-friendly opportunities for exercising together outdoors. Be mindful that pets don’t sweat—they pant to cool their body temperatures—so the safest time to hit the trail is morning or evening to avoid the most intense rays of the sun. And remember to check dogs for ticks post-trail with a quick brush through their fur.

  • Pushups with dog
    2. Raise your heart rate.
    Wondering if your dog can participate in higher-intensity fitness workouts? It depends. Many breeds thrive with intense cardiovascular activity, like running and stair climbing. Others are safer on the sidelines for these types of workouts, especially those prone to difficulty breathing, such as bulldogs, pugs, and Boston Terriers. Check with your vet if you’re unsure. If do you get the go-ahead, try looking into canine charity races; there are many 5K and 10K runs that welcome dogs.

  • Yoga with dog
    3. Build strength and flexibility.
    Yoga has many health benefits, including improved strength, balance, flexibility, and mental health. Plus it’s pet-friendly, as many pets love crawling onto the mat and stretching alongside their owners. In fact, cat yoga classes are popping up around the country, and some studios have started offering dog yoga classes. Before taking your pooch into a studio, check on expectations for the class. If your dog is on the high-energy side, it may be more peaceful to practice at home.

  • Fetch with dog
    4. Play fetch.
    How can you turn your dog’s favorite pastime into a decent fitness workout for you? Take advantage of the time when they’re chasing the ball to get yourself moving, too. Instead of checking your phone, work in a few lunges, squats, or pushups, and mix in a few runs alongside your dog as he chases the ball. Just make sure your dog is completely safe off-leash, ideally in a fenced-in area that’s suitable for running back and forth.

  • Swimming with dog
    5. Get in the water.
    Many dogs love water, making water-based workouts particularly pet-friendly. Standup paddle boarding works well, as many dogs enjoy riding on the nose of the board, and dogs also make good buddies in two-seater kayaks. Just make sure it’s a calm day when you introduce the new water activity, so figuring it out is a positive experience for you and your pet. Also, be safe by outfitting pups in a dog-friendly life vest with handles to help maneuver them out of the water if necessary.

  • Skating with dog
    6. Use those wheels.
    Bringing your pup along for a bike or rollerblade ride can be great for a dog with tons of energy—as long as it’s safe doing so either on- or off-leash next to you. Also, since you’ll be traveling at a faster pace on wheels, it’s important to keep pups hydrated. Make sure they drink a half-ounce to an ounce of water per pound of body weight throughout the day, and offer them water at a few points throughout the workout.

  • Jogging with dog
    7. Add intervals.
    Maybe running with your dog isn’t your thing, but you’re still looking to get moving together. Mix up your regular walks by adding intervals—bouts of higher intensity fitness walking or jogging that temporarily get your heart rate up. To do this, alternate between your regular rhythm and a quicker pace every minute, or every few minutes if that’s too much. Just be careful not to trip over the leash while you’re picking up your pace.

  • Woman exercising near cat
    8. Get creative with your cat.
    Just because cats don’t go on walks doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate them into your physical fitness routine. Try holding a flashlight while you’re doing crunches at home and moving the light across the wall in front of you each time you crunch. Your cat will run and bat at the light each time you contract your abs, making this at-home exercise a bit more fun. You can also wave a toy around in tandem with squats or lunges.

Fitness Workout | Exercising With Pets

About The Author

Allison Firestone has been writing and editing professionally for over a decade. She is currently working on her doctorate in education, specializing in disability, learning, and childhood mental health. She has a master’s in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s in special education from the University of Oregon.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Apr 23
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