11 Ways to Exercise With Your Dog

golden retriever rolling in grass and playing with a ball

Exercising is beneficial to both your and your dog’s health. It can keep you and your dog physically healthy, alleviate stress, and also be fun! Here are a few ways to exercise with your dog:

1. Go for Walks

Probably the most common form of exercise, going on a walk is a great way to spend time with your dog and get some exercise. Walking is a good exercise to begin with, especially if you are not usually physically active. It’s customizable and can be an easy-going, low-impact exercise.

Walks are great for dogs who don’t need a lot of physical exercise or older dogs. It’s also good for puppies who are growing and can’t do too much high-intensity activity. As puppies grow, they need to be careful about how much physical activity they do in order to let their bones and joints grow properly.

Going on a walk also allows your dog to explore their environment in a safe way. Your dog will want to do plenty of sniffing on your walk, so make sure you have time for that. Letting your dog sniff is a great way to help them learn their environment and is a useful dog walking tip.

2. Run Together

If you enjoy running, this can be another great exercise for you and your dog to do together. For dogs that need more exercise, running offers a better outlet for active dogs. There are quite a few dog breeds that make great running partners, but if your dog seems interested, give it a try.

If your dog is younger than two years old, you should not run with them until they are fully grown. Puppies finish growing at different rates. So, make sure you clear new activities with your vet to avoid damaging joints and bones that are still developing.

Be aware of any signs of overexertion and exhaustion in your dog. Take a few breaks every now and then unless they are used to long runs. For dogs that have short snouts, running is not advisable, and running will be hard on older dogs.

If your dog is well-trained in off-leash behavior, it might be beneficial running without a leash. If that’s not the case, it might be a good idea to try a hands-free leash.

3. Explore With Hiking

A bit more intense form of walking, hiking is another great exercise to do with your pup. Hiking with your dog allows you both to experience nature and explore a new area. If this is a new experience for your dog, try shorter hikes at first to allow them to acclimate to the terrain.

4. Go for a Swim

If your dog loves the water, swimming is a great exercise you two can do together. Swimming is a good, low-impact sport so it’s a great activity for senior dogs with joint issues. Just be sure your dog is comfortable in the water. Using life jackets is an important safety tip for swimming with your dog.

Provide plenty of water so your dog doesn’t drink lake or pool water. And keep a watchful eye on your pup, even if they are very confident in the water. Keep swimming sessions short, with a max of 15-20 minutes before taking a break.

5. Try Dock Diving

Dock diving is another fun sport that gives you and your dog some exercise. Dock diving, or dock jumping, is a great dog sport for dog breeds that love water. Dogs jump from a dock into a body of water while retrieving a toy. Jumps can be judged by distance, height, or both.

To train your pup, start by playing fetch in bodies of water, then graduate to diving. Be sure your dog is comfortable and confident in swimming as well as diving into the water. This is another exercise that requires a watchful eye.

6. Play Frisbee

Many dogs love catching things. Teaching your dog to play frisbee gives both you and your dog some exercise. This is also a good activity to play with friends who also have dogs. If your dog doesn’t play fetch, this might not be the right activity for them.

7. Try Scent Work

Scent work is a great way to exercise with your dog, mentally and physically. A dog’s sense of smell is one of their most powerful senses and scent work encourages them to refine it. The great thing about scent work is you can easily customize the level of activity best for you and your dog. It can be done outdoors or there are some fun indoor scent games for dogs to try.

Scent work is a fun activity for any dog and owner. If you want to really exercise your dog well, try planning games that use a whole yard or home. You’ll get exercise by planning out the route and placing the treats or things for your dog to find. Your dog will have much more ground to cover and hopefully will be well exercised.

For smaller or less active dogs, try a smaller area. Stick to a small part of your yard or one floor of your home. You and your dog can still get exercise, but it won’t be as physically demanding.

8. Relax With Dog Yoga

Sometimes called Doga, this can be a great way to bond with your dog in a low-key exercise. Doing yoga with your dog nearby can encourage them to relax and bond with you. Keep your pup close to you and try to work in some easy poses for them to try as well.

Poses like downward dog are especially easy for dogs to catch onto. Compass pose, happy baby pose, and supine twist pose are also poses your dog can participate in. During Savasana, pet your pup (if they’re okay with it) to encourage more bonding. It also can release hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemicals can help you and your dog relax.

9. Work Up a Sweat With Circuit Training

Circuit training is another exercise that can be done with anyone at any exercise level. You simply pick a few different exercises to do and rotate through them. To involve your dog, get them to perform tricks while you work your way through different exercises.

For example, if one of your exercises is sit-ups, ask your dog for a hi-five each time you sit up. Or, if you do jumping jacks, encourage your dog to jump with you if possible. If you have done work to train your dog not to jump up, make sure you use a specific command to avoid training regression and to ensure you are not confusing your dog.

Another fun way to involve your dog is by teaching them to bring certain equipment to you. If your dog is small enough and comfortable with it, you could use them for reps instead of a dumbbell or kettlebell.

10. Introduce Agility Training

Agility training is a great activity if both you and your dog like to be active. Agility training has your dog run through an agility course, full of obstacles they must run around or get through. Since you will guide them through the course, it’s a great workout for you because you need to keep up with your dog.

While this dog sport is commonly seen with highly active dogs, like Australian Shepherds, it can be modified for any breed and activity level. If your dog is quick to learn and likes doing tricks, agility training could be a great fit for them.

11. Play Some Tennis

No, your dog will not be able to play tennis with you as a person could! But, if you’re hoping to work on your serve or swing, take your dog along! Have your dog stand on the other side of the net and let them catch your serves and bring the balls back to you.

This is great for breeds that are natural retrievers, like Labrador Retrievers or Golden Retrievers. But if your dog loves playing fetch, it could be a great fit as well.

These are just a few ways to exercise with your dog. Exercise is an important part of your dog’s health and it’s a fun way to spend time together!