Workouts for You--and Fido, Too!

The obesity epidemic isn't just apparent on the streets of America's small towns and cities. Check out any veterinary clinic, and you will see that the numbers are rising in the canine and feline worlds, as well. The Association of Pet Obesity Prevention reports that 52% of dogs are obese or overweight--so it seems that getting Fido off the sofa is a good idea. Pets need activity for the same reasons we do: better sleep, weight control, increased energy and better moods. But when it's hard enough to find time to meet your own fitness needs, how can you possibly find time to schedule exercise for your pet, too?
Here are a few ideas to help you combine your exercise time with your pet's
Sign Up for a K9 Fit Club Class. K9 Fit Club classes are popping up all over the country. These classes offer a workout for both you and your pet, but are also a chance to work on training behaviors. All instructors are certified in human/canine fitness, but be sure to ask about dog obedience expectations, level of intensity and if there are any dog weight/height requirements. Class workouts are good for all ages and fitness levels, from Begging for Beginner®, Bow Wow Bootcamp® to NamaSitStay™ and include cardio, strength training, plyometrics and flexibility for both pooch and participant. K9 Fit Club also holds special needs classes in some locations. See if there is a K9 Fit Club location near you. You can also search "dog and owner fitness classes" online to find similar programs in your area.

Take Your Dog to the Gym. You've seen take-your-child-to-work days. Now take-your-dog-to-the-health-club days are becoming more popular. Many fitness studios and park districts are offering "Dog Yoga" classes, too, especially for smaller breed dogs. Although your dogs won't be doing many downward dogs on demand, they will be incorporated into the poses to offer you a fun, unique challenge. Check with local gyms and yoga studios in your area to see whether they offer any dog-friendly programs.  

Try Pawsilates. If you want to work your waistline without leaving behind your canine, Pawsilates can be just the thing to try at home. The workout combines Pilates movements with the added weight of your small dog (up to 40 pounds). The Pawsilates DVD features three mini workouts for you to do with your pet—and a rewarding pet massage winds down the workout when you're done.

Take an Agility Class. Dog agility classes are perfect for pets that have done well in basic obedience but are ready to go to the next level. Agility not only requires your pet to follow your commands but to be able to run a complicated obstacle course. You'll be running too, encouraging your pet and giving commands, so you'll get a workout, too. The United States Dog Agility Association offers links to local agility groups and classes.

Learn to Skijor. If you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow in the winter, and you have a strong, fit dog that doesn't mind the cold, you should look into this unusual sport that pairs cross-country skiing with dog sledding to provide a major workout for human and animal alike. Learn more about skijoring.

Try Biking or Rollerblading. With the right leash, it's not hard to hard to train a very active dog to run alongside you as you bike or rollerblade. Using a hands-free option will make it easier for you to get a workout without worrying about losing control of your pet.

Go for a Run. While walking your dog every day is good exercise, you can take your cardio training up a notch by learning how to run with your pet. You can even train together for special dog/owner races that take place all over the country. Some are even set up to be fundraisers for dog rescues and other pet-focused nonprofits.

Take a Hike. If your dog isn't quite up for a run, he still might be interested in a long, challenging hike. Depending on the steepness of the terrain, hiking can burn up to 400 calories an hour! Just make sure you choose a dog-friendly trail and bring plenty of water and bags to clean up after your pet.

Play Fetch. An active game of fetch at the dog park can be good exercise for both of you if you put some effort into your end of the game. When your dog returns the ball to you, play intervals of keep away where you run short distances and encourage your pet to follow. There are many kinds of toys available to help your pet exercise with you.

If you're just getting started taking your pet with you when you work out, you should start slowly and allow your pooch to build strength and stamina over time. Follow your pet's lead and let him take breaks when he gets tired. Make sure to bring water for both of you, especially if it's going to be warm outside. If you're not sure the activity you're considering is appropriate for your pet, check with you vet to be on the safe side. Exercising with your dog is a great way to guarantee you'll always have a fitness buddy who's ready to go and will never cancel at the last minute!
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Member Comments

I walk our crazy springer as much as I can although I would love to see some of these classes to our area ! Report
That's a great idea actually. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to exercise at home but the animals would not leave me alone. This would totally fix that problem.
Love this article! The six Kitchen Wolves are in for some extra fun today! "Let's move pupsters!" Report
Six legs are better than two Report
Great article! Thanks! Report
Great ideas! My pup is at least 12 years old and walks with me (and my daughter) about 3 miles each day and then runs like a gazelle while chasing squirrels. Then, I see one of his doggy friends who is so overweight that he can't even walk, even though he is the same age or younger. It makes me sad.

Btw, my dog is a stray who I found as an adult dog almost 12 years ago, untrained and malnourished. Best dog ever! Report
Great ideas! Thanks! Report
What a great idea! Thank you! Report
I enjoy working out with my dogs. They seem to like it as well Report
Always good to have a puppy along. Report
thanks. Report
Love this article! Not only will you and your dog be healthier, all the quality time together will form an even stronger bond than you currently enjoy! Not to put a damper on things, but I would use caution against playing fetch in a dog park. You're better off playing one on one in another environment. Dog parks are great but too often the other owners there do not have proper control over their pets. Too much excitement could lead to an expensive, even tragic trip to the vet. When it comes to dogs, excitement does not equate to happiness. :-) Report
I walk our 90 lb mixed breed twice a day. We've had him for over 8 years.He really loves walking thru the woods to chase the critters away Report


About The Author

Andrea Metcalf
Andrea Metcalf
With more than 30 years of experience in the healthy lifestyle industry, Andrea Metcalf is the best-selling author of "Naked Fitness" (Vanguard Press) and the creator of Pawsilates, a Pilates-based workout specially designed for dogs and their owners to do together!