Exercising with Your Dog: Your Pet Can be an Ideal Workout Partner

Your four legged friend can help you get in shape and have fun doing it

Credit: Samantha Legge

Exercising with your dog is fun and benefits both of you

I just spent a couple of hours on the water paddleboarding with my dog. Turns out he’s a great workout partner.

Over the years I’ve brought him mountain biking, snowshoeing, trail running and hiking. Being a labrador retriever he loves the water, so one of my goals has been to train him to paddleboard with me. 

Today was our first time trying it together and he did fantastic! I had to bribe him with a ball to train him to get on and then stay on the board. But he quickly got the idea and we actually got to paddle around the dog beach at Kits Beach.

Dogs are Perfect Workout Partners

Dogs can be the perfect ally to get into shape.

I’ve explained why social support is one of the five key factors for optimal fitness. Dogs are social creatures who love to spend time with their pack (i.e. you and your family). So they’re always happy to do things with you.

Since Rover requires a couple of walks each day, he’ll definitely keep you on a walking routine. In fact I’ve read one study that concluded that dog owners were more successful at maintaining weight loss than non-dog owners simply due to the fact that dog owners walk a lot more. 

You can also train dogs to go with you on many other activities. This will build a strong bond between the two of you and get you both into great shape.

I love the fact that Brady doesn’t feel the need to talk much when we’re out having fun. Maybe that’s a guy thing.

Some Considerations when Exercising with Your Dog

As great as it can be working out with your dog, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Train your dog for the activity. Teach Fido to stay out of the way of other participants (hikers, runners, cyclists, paddleboarders) for his safety as well as theirs.
  • Make sure your dog drinks water frequently. Try running with your winter coat on a summer day and you’ll appreciate what dogs have to do. They don’t sweat like people so they’re at greater risk of dehydration.
  • Take a lot of pit stops. Only a few select breeds of dogs are meant to run non-stop for long distance. Most dogs do better with the “run – stop and sniff – run” method. 
  • Don’t have your dog run for longer than 30 minutes on roads. Dogs will do best off-road so hit the trails with them. There’s much more to sniff plus it will be gentler on his paws and joints.
  • Just like you, dogs need to gradually build up their exercise. When he was younger I would take Brady on three-hour runs on the North Shore trails. But we built up the mileage slowly and did it during cooler weather. And we still took lots of water and sniff breaks.

Photo Contest Reminder

Don’t forget about the Active Life photo contest. Grab your pooch, your camera and take some photos of the two of you being active.