Great Ways to Exercise with Your Dog

Keeping Your Dog Fit and Active

In order to stay healthy and fit, we all need to exercise regularly. Dogs are no exception. Exercise is just one of your dog's basic needs. Many of us forget to give our dogs the exercise they really need. 

How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need?

In general, most dogs should get 1-2 hours of exercise daily to help keep them healthy. Your dog may need more or less depending on age, breed, and tolerance. Your senior Shih Tzu may just want to loaf around on the sofa while your young adult Border Collie mi...MOREght be doing agility for 4 hours a day and still want more. No two dogs are the same, so discovering your dog’s exercise needs may require some trial and error.  When in doubt, give your dog as much exercise as she wants, but don’t overdo it.

If you are starting a new exercise program for your dog, make sure to start slowly and let your dog build up endurance and tolerance to the exercise. Stop or reduce exercise if your dog seems tired, achy or disinterested in exercise. Watch for signs of exhaustion such as heavy panting, wheezing, lameness, disorientation, and slowing or stopping to lie down during activities. Avoid outdoor activities on very hot days, and be sure your dog has access to fresh, cool water at all times. Contact your vet if you notice any signs of illness during or after exercise. 

What Kind of Exercise Is Best for My Dog?

There are many activities you can do with your dog while exercising yourself at the same time. Some activities provide more exercise for your dog than for you but are still a fun way to bond. Play fetch with a ball or disc, visit the dog park. Do you want your dog to get involved in dog sports? Agility, flyball, and herding competitions are great places to start.

Why not have some fun and start exercising with your dog? It's a great way to bond with your dog with while staying healthy. Here are some great ways to exercise with your dog.

  • 01 of 07
    woman running with her dog
    Jordan Siemens The Image Bank/GettyImages

    Running is a great form of exercise for some dogs. Not all dogs can tolerate this type of exercise, but some dogs simply can't get enough!

    Running with your dog can be made easier when you use a hands-free leash. Off-leash running is not generally recommended but may be considered if your dog has a truly reliable recall and local laws allow off-leash dogs.

    When you first begin running with your dog, make sure to start slowly and work your way up to higher speeds and longer distances. Avoid...MORE running in hot temperatures (especially on hot asphalt). Check in with your dog regularly to monitor his exercise tolerance and take breaks as needed.

  • 02 of 07
    woman walking dog
    Yellow Dog Productions/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    Walking is the classic form of exercise we tend to give our dogs. But that's okay, most dogs love to walk! 

    In addition to getting some exercise, a walk is a great way for your dog to explore the world with her nose. Don't rush it -- let her take the time to sniff around during the walk. Try to take a different route every so often so your dog will get to see and smell new things.

  • 03 of 07
    Bikes and dogs
    Cultura RM/JLPH/GettyImages

    Not every dog is built to run alongside your bike. This can actually be dangerous in some cases (for you and your dog). However, riding a bike with your dog can be fun if you do it right.  

    The most important thing is to start slowly. Let your dog get used to the bike. Then, let her acclimate to running and keeping up with you. Ride as slowly as possible at first and avoid a lot of twists and turns. Your dog should be leashed, so you may want to find a good bicycle attachment so you won't...MORE have to hold your dog's leash.

  • 04 of 07
    Woman hiking with her dog 519692943
    Zing Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    If you love nature and you love dogs, then hiking with your dog might be perfect for you. Hiking gives your dog a chance to explore the world on a deeper level than a simple walk. 

    When you first begin hiking with your dog, start with short day hikes on a cooler day. Avoid difficult trails with a lot of rough terrain until your dog gets used to easy to moderate hikes and will be more sure-footed.

    Bring plenty of water along. Your dog might even take her own backpack; just make sure it's...MORE well-balanced and not too heavy.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07
    dog and owner play tug of war
    Photo © Ryan McVay / Getty Images

    There are many fun games you can play with your dog, some of which will provide some exercise too. Fetch, hide-and-seek, and tug of war all provide moderate exercise for your dog and light exercise for you.

    Games can also be used in training, which is a good form of mental stimulation for your dog.

  • 06 of 07
    dog-swim-hand-robincerutti-getty-484152837.jpg
    Robin Cerutti/Getty Images

    Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs know how to swim. Other dogs simply don't like to swim. But if you have a water dog, you know it. Let that dog swim! You can incorporate the game of fetch with swimming to make it even more fun. Just remember these water safety tips.

    If your dog doesn't mind the water but also cannot swim, you can still teach her. Start with a doggie lifejacket and shallow water until she gets the hang if it. If she likes the water, it won't be long before she...MORE is fine on her own. If she doesn't like the water, don't push it. She might just be a land lover.

  • 07 of 07
    Golden Retriever Doing Agility
    Photo © Joe Camerino

    There are many exciting dog sports out there these days, and new ones seem to be surfacing often. Sports like agility and canine freestyle will offer some light to moderate exercise for you in addition to giving your dog a great workout.

    To get started in a dog sport, do some research to find the ones that might be right for your dog. Then, look for classes in your area that will help you and your dog learn the sport.

Always check with your vet before starting any type of exercise regimen for your dog. When exercising with your dog, let her set the pace. Take breaks for water and rest. Avoid exercising in hot temperatures, especially with dogs that have shorter muzzles (such as Bulldogs or Pugs), senior dogs, and dogs with health conditions. No matter what type of dog you have, watch for signs of exhaustion, illness or injury. When in doubt, stop exercising and head home. Also, be aware of your surroundings when exercising with your dog. The presence of other dogs or people may create a dangerous distraction, especially if your dog is off-leash. Have fun, but be safe!