Exercise is a vital part of your dog’s life! Besides providing health benefits, regular exercise gives your dog a chance to release their pent up energy, which can eliminate a lot of problematic behaviours like chewing, digging, or barking. It’s a win, win!
Probably the easiest workout to start with your dog is walking or running with your dog on a leash. This is fantastic and can certainly help your dog (and you!) reap wonderful health benefits. However, just like with humans, dogs can benefit greatly from cross training and adding other types of activities into their exercise routine.
Here are some cross training ideas that can benefit you and your dog.
Strength and Obedience Training with your Dog – Depending on your dog’s temperament and size, you can do several sets of exercises before or after your walk or run to add some strength training to your workout. While you squat and stand, encourage your dog to sit and stand too, so he uses his back legs while you do. If you have a small dog, you can actually use them as resistance to do bicep curls or chest presses. This tends to benefit you more than him. If your dog is too big to be held, you can work with them to hold a sit or down position while you do your exercise sets. For your legs, hold a small dog to your chest while you do a wall sit. If your dog a bit big for this, do the wall sit and put his paws on your legs while you hold the position. A great all over toning move is a plank. You can do a plank and have your dog work to hold a down position next to you on your mat.
Agility Training at Home – You can check online and see if there are any agility training courses available near you. However, if not, you can always set up your own course and train your dog to run it with you. Buy some traffic cones, a pop-up tunnel, and a couple of ramps and you have the beginnings of your own course. Running up and down ramps and weaving through cones next to your dog will help you get a great workout too. The stop-start type of running is a good form of interval training for both of you. Agility training also helps your dog learn new skills and behaviours.
Swimming Training – Dogs are great swimmers, and most will happily hit the water with you. This is an excellent form of cross training because it uses muscles without weight bearing. As a gradual work up to running after injury or as an added session in your weekly training program, both of you will benefit from a pool session.
What is Doga? – Doga, or dog yoga, is basically a form of partner yoga that you share with your beloved pet! It includes a number of different poses that you can do with your dog to incorporate gentle stretches, breathing techniques, and doggy massage into your workout time. A popular doga pose you can try is to sit with your legs out wide and place your dog in the middle on his back, and gently extend his legs. You can both get a good stretch for your legs while you massage and rub his stomach. Doga is very gentle and relaxing and encourages quality bonding time with your dog. This is the perfect way to wind down and reward your dog for a job well done!
Working out with your dog will add a new layer to the bond you already share with your dog and encourage a healthy relationship. But the best part is that it will make sure that you and your dog are happy and healthy together for years to come!