20 Fat-Burning Exercises That Will Bond You And Your Dog!

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Woman exercising with her bernese Mountain dog

Are you looking to get in shape?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

Your dog is the ultimate fitness tool!

Seriously.

You don’t need to buy an expensive new gym set or that book of 8 fat-burning tricks you saw on Instagram…

Whether you want to improve your overall fitness, tone your body, or just lose a few pounds, your dog is the answer.

While your dog doesn’t realize it, he’s the perfect fitness partner. And he’s ready to join you on your fitness journey!

Let’s take a closer look at 20 ways you can use your dog to super-charge your exercise routine.

You should speak to your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. The same goes for your dog. Speak to your veterinarian before introducing your dog to new exercises.

1. Take your dog on a walk

Young couple exercising by walking dog on neighborhood streets

Calories burned: Approx. 240 per hour.

Breed suitability: All dogs

Let’s start with the most obvious one…

Taking your dog for a walk.

It’s no secret that dogs love walks. The mere sight of you grabbing the leash and harness will have your pup’s tail wagging with joy.

Many dog owners use the need to walk their dog as the motivation to exercise. A daily walk will keep your dog happy and you healthy – it’s win-win!

Whether it’s just you and your dog, or your whole family walking the dog together, walking is a low-intensity exercise that can be enjoyed by almost everyone!

Don’t like walking alone? You can talk on your phone the entire time. Your dog won’t care – he will be too busy sniffing his surroundings to notice!

I highly recommend choosing a walking route that starts at your front door. This way, there are no excuses for skipping your daily doggy walk.

Want to mix things up on your walk? Play a game of “follow the dog.” Instead of you choosing where to walk, let your dog lead the way – it’s like your dog is walking you instead!

Walking is the perfect exercise to do with your dog. Best of all, you should already have the necessary equipment for this exercise…

Equipment needed:

  • Dog leash
  • Dog collar or harness
  • A comfy pair of shoes

2. Go for a run

Woman exercising by jogging along footpath as yellow Labrador runs besides her

Calories Burned: Approx. 640 per hour

Breed suitability: High energy dogs

Looking for a higher intensity exercise? Running with your dog is the answer.

Running is perfect for tiring out hyperactive breeds like Huskies, Border Collies and Jack Russell Terriers.

I should mention that running covers everything from a slow jog to a sprint. You should pick a pace that suits you…

When starting out, the duration is more important than speed. I mean, sure you can sprint as hard as you can. But if, after 4 minutes, you are too exhausted to go on, then it’s not doing you much good.

As you improve in fitness, you can pick up the pace. There is no shame in starting out at a brisk walk, working up to jogging, then running. Your physical fitness is a personal journey, and there is no time limit.

Do you find it awkward to run with a leash in your hand? Consider grabbing a hands-free dog leash. This leash wraps around your waist, allowing you to freely swing your arms – much easier to find a good rhythm.

Keep in mind that running isn’t appropriate for all dogs. Smaller lapdogs, such as Chihuahuas or Pomeranians tire quickly and won’t be able to keep up with your pace.

But it’s not just tiny dogs that may have an issue running…

Breeds like bulldogs or pugs can quickly sprint over a short distance, but soon tire.

Sound like your dog? Consider short distance interval sprints. You can jog in place while your dog recovers (or do another exercise like pushups) before the next sprint.

Don’t forget to look at your dog to determine if he’s had enough. If your dog is panting excessively or starting to fall behind you, it’s time to stop.

Equipment needed:

  • Dog leash
  • Dog collar or harness
  • A comfy pair and supportive pair of shoes

Optional:

  • Hands-free dog leash

3. Take your dog a bike ride

Woman exercising on bicycle while golden retriever runs alongside her on dirt path

Calories Burned: Approx. 600 per hour

Breed suitability: All dogs

Cycling is a great exercise that allows you to travel great distances while burning off excess body fat, among other health benefits.

I am a massive fan of exercises that allow you to vary the challenge.

Feel like a slow scenic ride through a bike trail? You can do that. Want to feel the burn? Pick up the speed or choose a route with plenty of hills. The choice is yours.

What I love most is that cycling is low impact. If running is too aggressive for your joints, cycling may be a better exercise option for you.

And, of course, you can bring your dog along…

You would be surprised at just how fast your dog is. Many dogs such as German Shepherds, Dalmatians, and greyhounds have no difficulty keeping up with a bike.

In fact, bicycles are a great way to exercise a hyper-active dog because you can travel farther than walking or running alone.

Simply start cycling and your dog will happily keep pace with you.

Things get tricky if you are riding in an area where dogs need to be leashed. If you hold the leash in your hand or tie the strap to your handlebars, you risk running over your dog if he stops suddenly.

That’s I we recommend using a bicycle leash attachment. It’s a metal bar that attaches to the bike frame – allowing your dog to run alongside your bike, instead of in-front.

But what if your dog can’t keep up with your peddling? Maybe your dog has health or stamina issues…

Don’t worry, you can bring them along as a passenger!

If you have a smaller dog, he can ride up-front in a basket. There are purpose made dog baskets designed to stop your pup from leaping out!

Older, larger dogs cheer you on from behind. All you need is a bicycle trailer.

Be mindful that carrying your dog as a passenger adds extra weight. This will make it more difficult to cycle up hills. Think of it as a bonus workout – you can push through it!

Equipment needed:

  • Bicycle
  • Leash
  • Dog collar or harness

Optional:

  • Bicycle leash attachment
  • Dog bike basket
  • Bike trailer

4. Trek your favorite trail

Dog and woman admiring view after reaching the top of a mountain hike

Hiking is a great lower body workout. Your, butt, thighs and calves should be burning after a nice long hike – Not to mention how good all that fresh air makes you feel!

It doesn’t matter whether you are doing a short day trip or a multi-day trek, a hike is always more fun with a companion. And your dog is the perfect hiking buddy.

Bringing your dog will allow you to share the load. If you buy a dog backpack, he can help to carry food, water and other essentials like sunscreen.

What I love most about hiking is that you can choose a trail to match your fitness level. There are easy flat hikes or grueling steep ascents that will test both you and your dog.

Got a small dog that can’t walk far? You can bring him along too. There are backpack carriers that allow you to hike while carrying your little pup. The extra weight of your dog will add to your workout!

Equipment needed:

  • Backpack
  • Leash
  • Dog collar or harness
  • Dog water bottle

Optional:

  • Dog backpack
  • Dog carrier (for small dogs)
  • Food (for longer hikes)

5. Play a game of fetch

Golden Doodle chasing after tennis ball that was thrown by owner while exercising

Calories Burned: Approx. 240 – 500 calories per hour, depending on routine

Breed suitability: All dogs

Is your dog addicted to fetch? Then you probably already spend hours a week throwing a ball for your pup.

It might surprise you that with a little modification, you can turn a game of fetch into the perfect work out.

Here are two tricks you can use to turn your game of fetch into a belly-fat busting exercise routine.

1. Modify your throwing technique
Instead of an ordinary throw, combine a lunge into the movement. As you lunge forward, throw the ball. The same can be done with abdominal crunches.

2. Exercise while your dog returns the ball
You know the time you spend waiting for your dog to return the ball? That’s the perfect time to squeeze in a quick exercise set. Burpees, squat jumps, lunges, whatever you feel comfortable with.

The further you throw the ball, the more exercises you can fit in before your dog comes racing back.

That’s why I recommend using a ball thrower. This plastic device allows you to launch a tennis ball 3x further than using your arms alone.

Perhaps best of all, a ball thrower allows you to pick the tennis ball off the ground without touching it. This way, you won’t smell dog slobber on your hands as you work out.

Equipment needed:

  • Tennis ball (or similar sized ball)
  • Ball thrower

6. Frisbee race

Woman throwing frisbee about to race her dog to retrieve it for exercise

Calories Burned: Approx. 600 calories (low intensity) to 12,000 calories (high intensity) per hour.

Breed suitability: All dogs

Does your dog prefer to fetch frisbees to tennis balls? Don’t worry, there is an exercise routine for you too.

In fact, you can do the exact same exercises I mentioned in the previous section.

But what is unique about frisbees is the glide time. If thrown properly, a frisbee will slooooowly hover through the air.

And if you like to run, then hover time gives you the perfect opportunity to race your dog.

Throw the frisbee in a long arc. Once thrown, sprint after it, racing your pup to the frisbee.

Now, the idea isn’t to catch the frisbee – you don’t want your dog to accidentally bite you as he leaps to catch it.

Instead, you want to sprint alongside your dog, without obstructing his path. Even if you have a slower dog, it will be a tight race!

Catch your breath before throwing the frisbee back and racing your dog again!

If you have never thrown a frisbee before, I recommend watching a tutorial on YouTube. With the proper technique, you can make the frisbee slowly glide through the air – giving you a better chance of beating your dog to it.

Sound like that’s too high-intensity for you? Grab a frisbee partner for a lower intensity work out.

Throw the frisbee back and forth to your partner. The goal here is to play a game of keep-away from your dog. Whoever lets the dog catch the frisbee loses!

Equipment needed:

  • Frisbee

7. Kick a soccer ball

Family of three exercising with dog by kicking around a soccer ball in park

Calories Burned: Approx. 360 – 500 calories per hour, depending on routine.

Breed suitability: All dogs.

Are you more coordinated with your feet than your hands? Then these soccer-themed exercises are perfect for you.

1. Keep Away (solo)
Put your dribbling skills to the test and attempt to run around the park keeping the soccer ball away from the ultimate opponent – your dog.

2. Keep Away (family)
Bring in more players by getting your friends’ family in on the action. Attempt to pass the ball to other people without your dog intercepting it. Keep moving to keep the ball away. You can even make a game out of it – whoever kicks the ball to the dog is out, until there is a winner remaining!

3. Fetch
If your dog returns balls, kick the ball as far as you can. While your dog is returning the ball, performing jumping jacks, burpees jog on the spot, or similar. You can even race your dog to the ball if you like.

Whichever exercise you choose, the goal should be to keep moving. Juggling a soccer ball in one spot won’t burn many calories at all.

Equipment needed:

  • Soccer Ball

8. Tug of war

Woman exercising in field by playing tug-of-war with her dog

Calories Burned: Approx. 500 calories per hour.

Breed suitability: Stronger dogs that love to tug (you want a challenge).

If you are feeling strong and up for a challenge, then a game of tug-of-war will get the heart pumping.

In fact, dogs can be the perfect tug-of-war partner. Our neighbor’s Pitbull will gladly for hours at a time. He won’t give up!

Before getting started, I recommend reading up on how to play a tug-of-war game with your dog. There are rules to keeping everyone safe and happy.

Playing a game of tug is as simple as grabbing an object and having your dog bite down on the other end. And just like that, it’s game on.

However, for your safety, you want to choose an object with enough space between your dog’s teeth and your hands.

You see, in the heat of the moment, your dog may readjust his grip. And when he bites back down, he may accidentally get your fingers…

And you don’t want whatever you are tugging on to break mid-game, you could fall and seriously injure yourself.

Fortunately, there are purpose made tug-toys and ropes specifically designed for your dog to pull on. These toys are a must if you want to use tug-of-war as your preferred method of exercise.

Equipment needed:

  • Tug toy or dog-safe rope

9. Dog Yoga

Woman exercising by doing yoga with her small dog

Calories Burned: Approx. 240 calories per hour.

Breed suitability: All dogs.

Yoga is a low-intensity exercise that offers many health benefits, including improved strength and flexibility.

If you are a yoga lover, you’ll be overjoyed to know you can get your dog in on the action…

Doga (pronounce it like yoga) is a series of modified yoga poses that incorporate your dog. From using your pup’s weight for balance to stretches where your dog gets lots of pats, it’s a great bonding experience.

Check out this basic doga routine…

If you are new to yoga, then consider joining a doga class. Your instructor will show you how to safely stretch with your dog – plus, it’s a great way to meet new people!

One of the best things about yoga is how little space you need to do it. If you can roll our an exercise mat, you can do yoga.

This makes yoga the perfect doggy exercise if you live in a small apartment or short on space!

Equipment needed:

  • Yoga Mat

10. Doggy Dancing

German Shepherd Exercising by dancing with owner in the middle of dog park

Calories Burned: Approx. 150 – 500 calories per hour, depending on intensity of routine.

Breed suitability: All dogs.

Dancing is a great way to improve your aerobic fitness and muscle tone.

And your dog is the perfect dance partner!

I actually wish I knew this was an option when I was younger – I would have taken my dog to the school dance!

Now, it’s worth mentioning that dog dancing isn’t the same as the dances you are probably used to – this definitely isn’t ballroom dancing.

Doggy dancing is actually a series of tricks set to music.

To give you a better understanding, check out this dance routine from the 2016 Dog dancing world championship…

Of course, your routine doesn’t need to be that complicated. Start by working with the tricks your dog already knows before introducing new ones.

You’ll be surprised at just how many routines you can come up with using commands like ‘sit’ ‘return’ ‘shake’ and ‘roll over.’

It’s worth mentioning that doggy dancing isn’t the most practical exercise on this list…

To step up the intensity, you’ll likely need to teach your dog some new tricks.[1]

However, the effort is worth it. Not only will you have a slick new exercise routine, but you are guaranteed to take first place in any family talent competition!

Equipment needed:

  • Dog treats (for training)

11. Swimming

Labrador swimming

Calories Burned: Approx. 500 -700 calories per hour.

Breed suitability: All dogs.

Swimming is one of my favorite exercises. It builds endurance, muscle, and cardiovascular fitness. All the while being low-impact – water helps support your body and takes the pressure off your joints.

Many dogs can’t get enough of the water. Dogs like Poodles, Retrievers, and many Spaniels love to swim!

A slow breaststroke is excellent for beginners. Those of you are looking for a harder workout can choose freestyle or butterfly!

So, how do you swim with your dog?

On a hot day, your dog will happily jump in the pool with you, while you do laps.

However, if you want to work your dog into the routine, you can swim a lap and call your dog to come to you. This will give you a chance to catchy our breath before swimming another lap.

If you live near a lake, you can have a swimming race with your dog. Simply throw a floating dog toy as far as you can. After giving your dog a head start, jump in and race your pup to the toy.

Important: A dog life jacket is an important piece of equipment that may save your dog’s life. We recommend a dog life jacket is worn during all water exercises.

Equipment needed:

  • Dog lifejacket

Optional Equipment:

  • Floating dog toys
  • Sinking dog toys

12. Stand up paddleboarding

Woman exercising by paddleboarding across a lake with her black labrador sitting on paddleboard with her

Calories Burned: Approx. 300- 450 calories per hour.

Breed suitability: All dogs

Have you ever been paddleboarding? It might look simple, but let me tell you now that it’s an amazing upper-body workout.

Last summer I went paddleboarding for the first time in Santa Barbara. I kept slipping off into the water. It took about half-an-hour for me to figure out how to balance, which was a work out in itself!

I still remember how sore my body was after just an hour of paddling around the bay. My back, shoulder, arm and abdominal muscles were on fire!

If you want an upper body workout, I can’t recommend paddleboarding enough.

Once you have gained your balance, you can bring your dog along for the ride too.

If your dog loves the water, he may jump into the water every now and then. But, for the most part, your furry friend will be sitting comfortably on top of the paddleboard with you.

Bringing your dog along on a paddleboard trip is great for motivation. Not only will you have some company, but you can’t give up – you don’t want to leave your dog stranded in the middle of the water.

Important: A dog life jacket is an important piece of equipment that may save your dog’s life. We recommend a dog life jacket is worn during all water exercises.

Equipment needed:

  • Paddle board
  • Dog lifejacket

13. Kayaking

Jack Russel Terrier standing on the front of kayak while woman uses oars to paddle

Calories Burned: Approx. 300- 500 calories per hour.

Breed suitability: All dogs

Kayaking is similar to my previous doggy exercise recommendation. Both require you to paddle on water and even exercise similar muscles.

The critical difference? A kayak is more versatile. Because it’s easier to stay dry and even offers some protection from the wind, kayaking is also suitable on cold days.

Kayaks also have the added benefits of having storage, so you can pack a lunch (and some for your dog) for a more extended trip.

Finally there is stability. You don’t need to balance in a kayak, and there is less chance of a kayak flipping, even in rough water.

But, most importantly, there is still room to bring your dog along for the ride.

If you want to tackle waters with a current, then a kayak should be your pick.

Equipment needed:

  • Kayak and oars
  • Dog lifejacket

14. Dog agility training

Woman exercising by jogging along side her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for exercise as dog completes agility course

Calories Burned: Approx. 440 – 640 per hour

Breed suitability: All high-energy dogs.

If you are looking for an intense workout for you and your dog, look no further than agility training.

While your dog will be weaving through poles, running through tunnels and jumping over bars, you will need to keep up and issue commands along the way.

For many dog owners, agility training quickly becomes more than just a workout. With local clubs and national competitions, agility training is also a great hobby.

Now, you will have to train your dog on how to interact with each obstacle. But that’s part of the fun, and a workout in itself.

Not sure if agility training is right for you and your dog? Reach out to your local agility training club. Many clubs offer agility training classes, and some even have days to let beginners test out agility equipment.

Equipment needed:

  • Agility equipment

15. Roller skating

Woman exercising on roller skates by while being pulled along by Jack Russel Terrier on leash

Calories Burned: Approx. 440 – 700 per hour

Breed suitability: High energy dogs.

Roller skating is a fantastic lower body workout. If you are looking to tone your hips, thighs, and calves, then rollerskating is the exercise for you.

Now there are two ways you can do this. The first is to skate and have your dog keep pace with you. It’s basically like walking or running but with wheels attached to your feet.

But with just a few pieces of additional equipment, you can turn roller skating with your dog into a completely new experience…

By attaching a joring harness and slackline to your dog, he can pull you along on skates. Your workout comes in as you push off the ground with your skates, for extra momentum.

This activity is often referred to as urban mushing And is basically a warm-weather version of my next exercise recommendation.

If your dog is over 35 lbs, contact your local urban mushing club for more information on how to get started.

Equipment needed:

  • Roller skates
  • Leash
  • Collar/harness

Optional equipment:

  • Joring harness and slackline

16. Skijoring

Woman exercising in the snow skijoring with her dog

Calories Burned: Approx. 500 – 800 calories per hour.

Breed suitability: At least 35 lb high energy dogs.

Skijoring (pronounce it ski-jore-ing) is basically a combination of dog sledding and skiing. And it’s one heck of a workout.

Slide on a pair of skis, attach your dog to your waist, and you can now effortlessly ski across the flat ground!

It sounds like your dog is doing all the hard work, right? You are actually using your skiing skills and pushing off with your ski poles for a boost in speed – Not only does it work your core, butt, and legs, but it’s a great cardio work out too!

Now, if you don’t already have a pair of skis, then skijoring is an expensive sport to get into.

However, many dog owners find the investment is worth it. Skijoring has a lively community with many training classes, meetups, and competitive races held each year. In fact, if you live in a northern state, there is probably a skijoring club near you.

Equipment needed:

  • Dog harness designed for pulling (like a sled harness)
  • Slackline
  • Cross country skis
  • ski poles

17. Treadmill

Woman exercising on treadmill with small dog walking alongside her

Calories Burned: Approx. 150 – 400 calories per hour.

Breed suitability: All dogs.

I love treadmills. It’s hard to beat a brisk walk or intense run in the comfort of your own home – Perfect for those days when it’s too cold to outside.

A treadmill is a fantastic way to exercise with your dog too!

There are three ways you can use a treadmill to exercise with your dog…

1. Sharing the treadmill at the same time

If you have a small dog, you can share a treadmill. Small dogs like Yorkshire Terriers or Pugs can walk alongside you without bumping you off the treadmill. Be mindful that this is only suitable for walking speeds.

2. Taking turns on the treadmill
If you have a larger dog, you’ll need to take turns. This could be going on a long walk each. However, my favorite way to share is to up the incline and speed. I’ll go hard for 10-minute intervals then stop to catch my breath. During this time, I’ll encourage my dog to walk on the treadmill – and repeat.

3. Personal treadmills
If you have the money to spare, you can buy a second treadmill and have your dog walk or run alongside you. The advantage of two treadmills is that you can adjust each treadmill to your preferred pace, without needing to regularly change the settings.

Equipment needed:

  • Treadmill

18. Body Weight Training

Woman doing abdominal crunch exercise while holding a corgi dog for extra weight

Calories Burned: Approx. 150 – 500 calories per hour, depending on exercise and intensity

Breed suitability: All dogs.

Have you ever tried doing an ab-workout only to have your dog bother you mid-routine?

The solution is to incorporate your dog into the workout. You get to exercise, and your dog gets attention. It’s win-win.

You would be amazed at how many exercises can be modified to include your pup. Lunges, crunches, jumping jacks, squats…

If you have a small dog, you can even use him in place of a weight!

The exact routine will depend on the specific muscle groups you want to target. Here is a fitness routine to get you started.

19. Keep Away

Jack Russel Terrier being exercised as he chases his owner in a grassy field

Calories Burned: Approx. 150 – 500 calories per hour, depending on intensity

Breed suitability: Dogs over 35 lbs.

Most dog’s love to chase. It’s in their nature. You can turn these natural instincts into a fat-burning exercise routine. I’m talking about a game of keep-away.

There are a few different ways you can play keep-away with your dog.

On the lower intensity end, you barely need to move at all. All you need is a flirt pole. A flirt pole is essentially dog-friendly fishing pole with a toy attached.

As your dog chases the toy, you keep it just out of reach raising and lowering it with your arms. You can add to the workout by spinning and turning, to keep the toy away from your dog.

If you need more of a workout, hold your flirt pole in your hand and run from him as fast as you can. If you have a quick dog you’ll need to change directions, bob and weave to keep the toy away – it’s exhausting!

Equipment needed:

20. Canicross

jogger exercising by cross country running with canicross harness and dog

Calories Burned: Approx. 700 calories per hour.

Breed suitability: Dogs over 35 lbs.

If you love trail running, this is the perfect exercise for you and your dog.

Canicross is essentially a mashup of cross-country running and sledding.

Your dog attaches to your body by a line and belt and pulls you along while running.

As your dog pulls, it boosts your speed. It can take a little practice to find your rhythm, but once you do, you’ll feel as like a superhero – dashing across vast distances in no time at all.

There is a very supportive canicross community. From forums offering advice to local classes where you can improve your technique.

Think you and your pup have mastered canicross? Enter a competitive race for the ultimate challenge.

Equipment needed:

  • Canicross harness, line and belt

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different ways you can exercise with your dog.

The strangest part? Exercising with your dog is addictive. I used to exercise on my own. Now, I have no idea how I did it without my furry friend next me.

I’m sure if you use your creativity, you can come up with dozens of other ideas on how to exercise with your dog.

Now, before I leave you, I want to stress the importance of you and your dog’s safety. Improperly exercising can cause more harm than good, so do your research before picking an exercise to try!

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