Staying active and in shape is important for both you and your dog, but regular walks with your pooch can get tedious. Here are some new ways to exercise with your dog beyond your normal go-to's. 

Dog Yoga

Stretch out into a downward dog along with your pup in a "doga" class. Your dog can follow along with the poses or simply sit and breathe with you. In some cases, dogs may wander around the classroom socializing and playing, providing a nice distraction as you hold a longer pose. Training your dog to perform certain poses and sequences is fun. Certain yoga exercises can help them get more comfortable with being touched and handled. If you can't find a class to join, there are videos available online that you can try at home with your pooch.

Dog-Friendly Fitness Classes

Fitness classes for both dogs and humans have grown in popularity. An increasing number of gyms are offering these cross-species classes, both indoors and outdoors, from CrossFit-style workouts to circuit training stations or even obstacle courses. While you do push-ups, your dog can mirror you with puppy push-ups (sit, down, sit, stand). You can train your dog to weave through your legs between lunges or squats. And don't forget the cardio — you can race your dog for wind sprints. There's no better encouragement than your dog cheering you on as you hold that plank!

Get on The Water

If you love to paddleboard or kayak, you can teach your dog simple things so they can join you on the adventure. Your dog will need to know how to stand, sit, and lay down calmly so they don't rock the boat, as well as get on and off. This is a great core workout for your dog as they balance on a slightly rocking surface. Don't forget their life jacket!

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Try Out a Dog Sport

You'd be surprised how much of a workout you get while running an agility course with your pup. While they zoom around, you must keep pace and direct them to the next obstacle. Love to dance? There's a dog sport for that! Canine Freestyle gives you the chance to choreograph a routine where you and your dog perform. And if your dog loves to follow their nose, try out a nosework or tracking course. You can work scent trails in a variety of environments, letting your dog lead you on a long leash as they seek out the scent — you'll be surprised at how much ground they can cover.

Play Tennis

Does your dog love to fetch? Mix up the regular ball tossing by picking up a racket to make this more challenging for you and work on your hand-eye coordination. While your dog chases down the balls you hit, you'll get lots of practice for the perfect serve.

Hit the Trail

Adding a bit of elevation gain turns a regular walk into a nice hike. Plus, you get to take in the beauty of nature together with your dog. If you're a runner, consider trail running with your dog. 

Tips for Exercising with Your Dog

Always make sure your dog has plenty of water before, during, and after exercise. And watch them closely for early signs of overheating, such as excessive panting, abnormal gum color, disorientation, or collapse. Have a pet first aid kit on hand and a plan to seek prompt veterinary care in the event of an unexpected health issue during the workout.

Before starting a new exercise regimen, you'll want to check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is healthy and ready to try something new. And just like with people, you want to slowly condition your dog to increase physical exercise. Take it nice and easy to start before working up to longer or harder workouts together. Always make time for a warmup and cooldown, and make sure to take rest days to allow muscles to recover.


Melody R. Conklin, VMD, MBA

Dr. Melody R. Conklin is originally from Youngsville in northwestern Pennsylvania and earned her BS at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park in 2003, where she majored in Animal BioScience and minored in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. She then attended the University of Pennsylvania, earning her VMD in 2007. Dr. Conklin worked in companion animal general practice until 2015 when she joined Zoetis’ Veterinary Medical Information and Product Support department while finishing her MBA at Penn State Great Valley in 2017. Dr. Conklin currently works full-time in a companion animal practice while working with Zoetis US Petcare Medical Affairs in a consultant role. She lives in Sinking Spring, PA with her 4 cats, Vegeta, Fluffzor, Poof, & Butter, and 3 guinea pigs, Pascha, Elena, & Caroline.