Whether you've had a dog for years or you just adopted a pup during quarantine, you probably know what a physical experience it is to have a furball pal. Maybe you have to carry your senior dog up the stairs, or maybe your service pup helps you navigate the world. No matter your relationship with your furry pal,
working out with your dog will leave you both feeling great.
Exercising with your pup is a perfect storm of mental health benefits. As a personal trainer, I know that
working out enhances your mood and helps de-stress you. As a new doggie parent, I can attest that when you add your dog into the mix, you're adding a bunch of silliness and taking away a lot of stress. Dogs increase your mindfulness by keeping you tuned into their antics rather than fixated on your latest mishap at work. Combining more focus on the present with more workouts maximizes happiness for both you and your fur friend.
If you're a
new puppy parent, figuring out how best to keep your dog occupied can be a Herculean task. Working out together might be just what you need to stimulate your heart rate and your pup's mental and physical development all at once. From traditional playing to the most hilarious core exercises you'll ever do, try out these 13 exercises you can do with your dog for peak levels of joyful cardio and strength training. chee gin tan/E+/Getty Images
If you're one of the many folks who've adopted a puppy during quarantine, you probably know that your furry pal can't roam free in places unknown dogs have been until they have
all their vaccines. Snuggle your pup to your chest — they like hearing your heartbeat — and take them on a carry instead of a walk. They'll get to smell the outside and become used to different sights and sounds, and you'll get both a walk (lower body) and an arm workout (especially if your pup is a big one!) all at once.
Yes, playing with your pup inside can definitely be a workout all on its own. Even if you have a smaller fur baby, getting on all fours and shifting around on your "paws" with them can engage you both. Hover your knees off the ground to add an extra effort for your core while you're playing "where you gonna go?" with your friend.
Walking definitely counts as a workout because it gets your whole body moving and your heart rate pumping. Even before you take a single step, venturing out into the sunlight can give you a much-needed jolt of energy and happiness.
If depression or anxiety make it hard to take that first step into the great unknown, an excited puppy might be just what you need to open the door and get your cardio on.
If you've got a trail near your apartment, your cardiovascular system, your leg muscles, and your dog will all be thrilled if you head out for a hike. Make sure you bring water for both yourself and your pup, and enjoy the
mental health benefits of being in nature — not to mention how excited your four-legged friend is when they smell a nearby squirrel.
If you've got a dog that has a lot of energy, invest some time in
leash training them to run with you. Once you're confident they'll be a safe running companion, take them on your daily jog. Your pup will start looking forward to it, even on the days that you're not. They'll help you get out the door and you'll give each other an excellent cardiovascular workout.
Adriene Mishler of
Yoga with Adriene isn't the only one who can do yoga with her perfect pup, Benji. You, too, can down dog with your dog. A great (and often hilarious) trust-building exercise, holding yoga poses above your dog gives an added motivation to maintain those isometric holds. Your stabilizer muscles will get stronger, your endurance will get better, and your pup will learn to stay close to you without nipping or jumping. Graiki/Moment/Getty Images
Grab your dog's favorite tennis ball and head out to the park together. Hold the toy and squat down as low as you can without arching your back. Show your pup the ball they're about to fetch and wait until they're excited and ready to go. Explode into standing, sending the ball back behind you as far as you can.
To add an extra challenge, hop yourself into a 180-degree rotation to watch your pup zoom off after their ball. Your legs will get stronger, your arms and core will stay engaged, and your dog (and you) will be endlessly amused by the twist on your regular game.
Teaching your pup tricks helps keep them mentally sharp and engaged — and in some cases, it can keep your muscles engaged, too. When you're teaching your dog to give you their paw, try doing it with a backward lunge. Step back into a lunge with your left foot when you want them to shake your left paw... er, hand. Lunge backward with your right foot when you want them to reach for your right hand. Don't forget to keep your chest tall and track your knees over your toes. Most importantly, keep the praise and treats coming for your friend.
Russian Twist (With Treats)
Sit on your butt, bend your knees with your feet on the ground, and lean back to about a 45-degree angle. Keep your core engaged by squeezing your glutes and driving your heels into the floor. Keep a supply of small training treats in your hand and call your pup to you. Make sure they know exactly what you've got for them, and rotate your torso into Russian twists.
Keeping yourself at that 45-degree angle, rotate your core to bring your hands over to your left hip, then to your right hip. Your pup might run around or under your legs, or they might just leap over you to try and catch your hands (and their treats). Let them have a treat every four reps or so, and remember to breathe between your laughter.
Come Get The Toy Shuffle
Agility training with your dog helps keep them both mentally sharp and physically fit — and it'll improve your coordination, too. With their favorite tug of war toy in your hands, hold it out in front of you with a slight hinge in your hips and soft knees. Shuffle a few steps to your left, encouraging them to follow the toy. Reverse directions, making sure they come along with you. Take backwards steps when they get extra excited, and if you really want to get some hilarity in there, add some diagonal shuffles to your "come get the toy" game. Marija Jovovic/E+/Getty Images
When you're playing with your pup, grab one of their toys and get into plank position with your hands under your shoulders
, either on your knees or toes. With the toy in your left hand, hold your weight in your right hand and extend the toy all the way out to your left. Try to keep your hips level as your pup tries to get at their toy.
Transfer the toy back to the ground, tugging war as needed. Try to stay in your plank during battle. Eventually, take the toy into your right hand and repeat. This will build your core stability, upper body strength, and balance in a big way, not to mention the added exercise challenge of laughing super hard.
Figure Eight Squats (Yep, With Treats)
Sink down into a squat, trying to keep your thighs as close to parallel with the ground as feels comfortable. Get your pup's attention onto the toy in your hand and keep it out of their grasp by passing it between your legs in a figure-eight pattern. You'll have to stay both stable and agile to make sure they don't leap into you while they're trying to get their toy. Feel free to let the game amp up into some good old-fashioned chasing, because who doesn't need that kind of joy?
If you've played indoor hide and seek with your pup, they probably know not to worry if they don't see you right away. Start this game gradually, when your dog already knows you won't abandon them and doesn't have anxiety when they can't see you. With any game of hide and seek, you want to make sure your four-legged knows you'll never leave them.
But when they know you're playing, they'll take a lot of joy in finding you behind that tree — and you'll get some nice arm action and wind sprints in. Chuck their frisbee or ball as far as feels comfortable for you and your pup. When they turn around to run after it, you run, too. Find a tree to hide behind, keeping your "hiding" spot obvious if your pup is anxious or new to the game. When they come bounding back with their toy, they'll have to find you. You'll both be delighted to be reunited with plenty of praise, snuggles, and puppy kisses.