A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Advice and ideas to exercise with your dog

Man playing fetch with his dog - Advice for exercising with your dog

Regular fetch is great for Fido, but it doesn’t do much for you. While he fetches, work in your own exercise with squats, lunges or jumping jacks.

Puppy destruction and sloppy kisses – yes, these describe man’s best friend. You could also add – workout buddy.

Perhaps you made a heart healthy New Year’s resolution to get more exercise and you happen to be a dog owner.

A dog is a great motivator to walk 30 minutes or more per day, which can positively impact your health. If you’re looking to jazz up your daily walk with your dog, physical therapist Ashley Detterbeck shares additional ideas for exercising with your dog.

Take the stairs

On poor-weather days, use the stairs in your house or apartment building to exercise with your dog. Keep your dog on a leash so Fido gets a nice workout in, too, as he follows you up and down the stairs.

Variations make a full quad, hamstring and glute workout:

  • Run or walk every step
  • Run or walk every other step
  • Side step
  • Two-foot hop
  • One-foot hop
  • Climbing lunge (three steps at a time)

Snowshoe, cross-country ski or rollerblade

Mix in other outdoor recreation activities with your regular walks.

“I take my lab snowshoeing with me frequently during winter,” Detterbeck said. “It’s a great low-impact, total-body workout for me and she gets tired out from trudging through snow.”

In warmer months, try rollerblading.

Play active fetch

Regular fetch is great for your dog, but it doesn’t do much for you.

Switch up the fetch routine to actually exercise with your dog. While he fetches, work in your own activity with squats, lunges, jumping jacks, crunches and planks. Here are additional ideas for between throws:

“Another simple variation of fetch is to squeeze in your own sprints by actually racing your dog for the ball or toy.” Detterbeck said.

Try playing tag

Who doesn’t love tag?

“My dog loves playing tag in the yard, and it’s another fun way for both of us to do some running,” Detterbeck said.

Start with your dog chasing you. Then, after a moment’s rest, begin chasing your dog.

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