Fitness Articles

Exercising with Your Dog

Pets Can Help Improve Your Health & Fitness


  • Start slowly, gradually increasing the time and intensity of the activity. This will safely strengthen your pet’s muscles, aerobic capacity, and footpads.
  • Pay attention to how your pet is feeling. Signs that your pet needs to slow down or stop include drooling, stumbling, trouble breathing, and a long, droopy tongue. Take a break and consider making tomorrow's workout shorter. Also remember that in hot weather your pet can't sweat like you do to keep cool.
  • Concrete and asphalt are tough on your friends’ paws—especially on hot days. Try to walk or run on dirt paths (or grass) as much as possible.
  • The longer you work out, the more water Fido needs. Bring along a collapsible water dish to help your pet stay hydrated.
  • Be realistic about your pet’s limitations. Many smaller breeds love going for a brisk walk, but you’ll probably have to carry them on a strenuous hike. Animals with a thin coat will not tolerate cold weather very well, whereas dogs with thick coats don’t do well in the summer heat.
  • You should avoid strenuous exercise with your pet until they are finished growing (after 9-12 months for most dogs).

Working out with a buddy can be motivating and make exercise more enjoyable. So think about making a buddy out of your four-legged friend!

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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • So very true. Our dog loves to walk with me. If anyone says the word "walk" in a sentence, they better be prepared to go out the door, because she'll go in circles!! I just love her. The most inspiration I have around me all the time!! - 3/16/2015 11:24:17 AM
  • If you really want exercise walking a dog, try a black lab/husky mix. I didn't take her for a walk, she took me for a run! - 10/31/2014 11:59:10 AM
  • I so wish that I was not allergic to animals. I always had dogs as well as cats. Now I feel like I'm doomed to live on 2-3 allergy pills a day. When the DR. told me that I thought he was crazy. Well I outlived my dog and I am pretty sure that one of my cats is banking on out living me. LOL! Dogs are such great fun for exercising. I really loved my boxer, my lab and golden retriever. - 7/12/2014 9:19:54 PM
  • I've only owned dogs when I have lived in houses with large, fenced yards, so I've never *needed* to take my dogs for walks. Then I started taking the two dogs I have now for walks about a month ago, mainly because they would cry and wait for me by the gate when I started going on walks myself as part of my overall lifestyle revamp.

    Man! Talk about a difference! The enthusiasm the pups have when they realize we're going for a walk is the best possible positive reinforcement I could ask for. It transforms "boring excercise" into "a wonderful adventure and bonding experience".

    I couldn't ask for better work-out partners, or a better way to stay motivated!
    - 7/10/2014 4:32:47 PM
  • I have been walking my various dogs for the last 30 years, usually around 3 times a day. I am now on my third dog that I have been taking for regular walks, every single day, rain or shine! I crocheted my current dog a few sweaters since his fur is thin so he won't get cold in the winter, and when we walk and he gets tired I carry him (he weighs less than 15 pounds) so I get an upper body workout sometimes too! We take one long walk in the morning, another long walk in the afternoon, and a short one at night. I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I couldn't walk my dog - it helps with the arthritis in my hip! At night I bring a small flashlight with! - 10/7/2013 12:56:25 PM
  • my dog and I are usually out 3 times a day during the week, more often and/or longer walks on the weekends. we've tried jogging together but its not always workable as he tends to cross in front of me and at 90ish pounds and his back at the height of my mid-thigh it can get a little hairy!
    btw he has very short hair, being a greyhound mix, and doesn't do so well in the heat... - 7/19/2013 9:16:13 AM
  • My little buddy runs with me every day. Lately we've been very happy to discover people who run their sprinklers early in the morning for him to cool off in. - 7/18/2013 10:01:15 AM
  • I LOVE walking my dogs and enjoy my walks more if I have my dog with me. Since I love walking with dogs so much when I was looking to adopt a new friend I looked for a sturdy medium size dog that will enjoy walking with me and he really does! I don't walk in bad weather.... but I'm waiting on my treadmill to come and I want to teach my doggie to walk on the treadmill too! - 1/13/2013 10:30:35 PM
  • I take my dog jogging with me - and she is definitely calmer and better behaved afterwards. Having a big, energetic dog like I do (she's a malinois crossed with a lupo italiano) definitely motivates you, becaus even if I really don't want to go anywhere, I know that she does and would feel too guilty not to take her... Only thing is in the summer, it gets really hot here and she struggles, despite me getting up at sunrise when it's cooler. - 11/16/2012 6:50:10 AM
  • My dogs are small and get alot of excercise in the large back yard.
    I have a hard time feeding them because one will eat the other dogs food after he has left his dish. I'm not always there to pick it up right away.
    She's about 3 -5 pounds overweight so I think I'm going to start to walk them.
    I have a bad back and a hernia so I don't know how far I'll get before I come back but I am going to try. I'll let you know how it goes. - 9/15/2012 2:38:56 AM
  • Walk our 2 collies once or twice a day, will be getting another so will be 3! - 8/12/2012 2:18:05 PM
  • I love my doggy and anything that makes her happy, makes me happy. I really enjoy walking with my husband and her, AllyBear in the park. My family tries to stay in shape and that includes AllyBear!! - 8/7/2012 11:25:13 PM
    Mom moved into an apartment complex a few months ago, so her 13 year old dog now has to be walked rather than let loose to run in the yard. Since they started walking, Mom has lost a lot of weight. - 8/7/2012 8:30:06 PM
  • Since I am on the computer so MUCH with SparkPeople, these days (day 26 for me!) I made a "deal" with myself..... For every hour on the computer, 15 minutes of walking with our dog! (I am also on the computer for work). It seems to be working! & LUCY is VERY happy!!!! I also have a parekeet, but I don't know how to walk him yet! He does travel with me, though! He's a great traveler & loves Christmas Music! - 4/11/2012 8:05:35 PM
  • My dog brings my walking shoes to me if we haven't gone for our morning walk. She definitely helps keep me motivated. - 8/18/2011 1:35:56 PM

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