They say working out goes better with a buddy, and dog-owners should know. The canine-loving segment of the population gets 69 percent more physical activity than their pupless peers—sorry, cat people! Dogs not only encourage you to get out of the house, they generally make sure you keep up the pace. And running with your dog gives your exercise an endorphin-pumped boost: experts say that dog-human running partnerships encourage emotional bonds that can help you keep going when the workout gets tough.
And dogs thrive on routine, which means they won’t let you skip your workout because there’s a new show on Netflix you want to watch. Here’s how you can get your favorite canine in on the action—and maybe get some much-needed obedience training for your pooch, too!
Pack Mentality: Running with Your Dog
Dogs love to get out and stretch their legs, so if jogging is your thing, you’ve just found the perfect running partner! Some pups get distracted easily, though, so it helps to give your furry fitness pal the training he or she needs before venturing out onto longer runs. Start with short 10-minute jaunts and move on from there. Additionally, if your puppy is particularly energetic, they can probably use the extra exercise, but running with a dog that pulls is absolutely no fun. Keep your canine on a short leash so they can’t run ahead, dragging you behind. Reward Rover when he gets it right so he knows he’s on the right track!
Hit the Road with Your Favorite Pooch
Running is obviously one of the easiest ways to get your dog in on your exercise action—but what if the idea of jogging a mile gives you a serious case of the blahs? Cyclists, too, can enjoy the company and tail wags that come with a four-legged exercise partner. If your dog loves to trot and is in pretty good shape, he or she may be able to run behind you using a special bicycle leash that fits just below your seat. Make sure you don’t go much faster than 20 or so miles per hour, though, so your pup can keep up. Got a pet with short legs? No worries. Bicycle sidecars or trailers give them somewhere to sit and enjoy the view while you get your workout in. Sounds like a pretty good deal for you both!
Burn Calories with the Power of Play
Dogs know how to do physical activity right. Instead of slaving away at a treadmill, they use their exercise time for play. Whether it’s fetch, tug-of-war, or wrestling, dogs will do anything to keep themselves entertained—fitness is merely a side-effect. Games like keep-away or tug-of-war hone your pup’s natural instincts and get you a little workout for your arms and core, too. Or if your canine loves to play fetch, try this one out: throw the ball or frisbee for your dog and let them chase after it. While they’re busy retrieving, drop and do as many push-ups, lunges, or squats as you can. After a half hour or so, you’ll both be all tuckered out.
Doga: the Yoga You Can Do With Your Dog
We’ve seen heavy metal yoga, stiletto yoga, and “voga”—a combination of voguing and yoga—so why shouldn’t your furry friend get in on the fun? If the downward-facing dog position is any testament, dogs already have stretching down pat anyway. It may sound crazy, but dog yoga, or “doga” is a real practice, although your dogs don’t really have to do be able to do lotus pose to get in on it. Typically, they just stand on your back, if they’re small enough, while you stretch as far as you can. Larger canines get plenty of pets, and help you stay balanced during stability postures.
Doggy Boot Camp Gets You Both in Peak Shape
Okay, so your pooch is a little unruly, to say the least. Meanwhile, it’s been so long since you went to the gym that you don’t even remember where it is. Kill two birds with one stone by enrolling in a dog-centric boot camp class. These energetic fitness centers have popped up across the country, promoting twin goals: to get you fit and healthy using boot camp-type drills, and teach your dog to obey at the same time. You do circuits while a trainer runs your pup through obedience routines. It’s a personal training session that works for everyone—no matter how much you slobber through class!