Get Fit: Dog-Walking Workouts For You & Your Fur Baby

Key Points

  • A dog-walking workout lets you bond with your furry friend.

  • Always pack water, treats, toys, and poop bags for your walks.

  • Dog-walking workouts include squats, lunges, toe taps, Russian twists, and creative aerobic activity. 

  • The duration of your dog's walk primarily depends on their breed, age, and size. 

Fellow fur baby owners: Your dog is more than a snuggle bug, personal greeter, home security guard, and source of unconditional love. They might also be your workout buddy and accountability partner! Ever heard of dog-walking workouts?

They let you and your pup reap the benefits of movement. Dog-walking workouts spice up your usual routine by pushing you to use every available moment of downtime.

Benefits of Walking Your Dog

Is your dog constantly chewing holes in your shoes? What about tearing up the couch or scratching expensive furniture? Destructive (and inconvenient) behaviors often stem from being cooped up inside for too long. Your pup gets anxious, restless, and downright bored. 

All that pent-up energy has to go somewhere! Taking your furry friend on daily walks provides positive physical and mental stimulation. With you as a trusty chaperone, they get to explore their environment, socialize with other dogs, and experience the magic of the outside world. 

When you return, your dog feels satisfied and exhausted, which keeps them from wreaking havoc in your home. Dog walks encourage good behavior, create a healthy routine for your pup, and help with potty training. They also counteract joint problems and keep your dog at a healthy weight. 

The best part? Dog walking is a special bonding experience. Your dog develops positive associations with you and vice versa. Dog walks provoke happiness and excitement for your pup. They're thrilling adventures with their favorite hoo-man (that's you).

Walking Husky on leash

How Dog Walks Benefit You

On top of owning a healthy, happy pup? Walking supports your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It's a great form of active recovery between intense workouts like running, strength training, and HIIT. 

Walking increases circulation through your tired, sore muscles. It lubricates your joints, reduces injuries, and enhances your exercise performance.

Routine walks regulate blood pressure and cholesterol and bolster heart health. They're the most accessible exercise option for people with illnesses, chronic conditions, and upper-body injuries. Walking preserves balance and coordination, too. 

Licensed physical therapist and wellness coach Lisa Nichole Folden says, "That reciprocal movement with your arms and legs as you're navigating different terrains like concrete, grass, gravel, and stuff in the road … is vital to maintaining long-term health and wellness."

Struggling with focus and productivity? Walking outside boosts brain power. It gets your blood and creative juices flowing fast. Ideas begin popping into your head left and right!

Bonus? Connecting with nature is always oh-so-good for the soul. 

Dog-Walking Safety Tips

Are you a first-time dog walker? No worries! Follow these helpful tips.

Invest In a Front Clip Harness

Is your dog a major leash puller? Front clip harnesses are a must. Since they're not attached to your pup's neck or back, front clip harnesses guide them more gently. They prevent choking and straining. Plus, your dog is less likely to fight against the leash. 

Purchase a quality harness online for only $14.

Going for a jog with dog

Don't Use a Retractable Leash

While a retractable leash grants your pup more freedom and flexibility outdoors, it also causes unnecessary hazards. For starters, controlling your dog in high-traffic areas is much harder. If they suddenly lunge at other pets or wander into the street (completely clueless about oncoming cars, of course), it's difficult to reel them back in. 

According to online reviews, the leash's lock feature is notoriously unreliable. Even worse? The thin rope-like cord can injure humans and pets, causing severe burns, deep cuts, entanglement, or strangulations. 

Let Your Pup Sniff Around

Did you know your pup's sense of smell is vital to their well-being? Giving your dog time to "smell the roses" lets them engage their natural instincts. They return home much more fulfilled and exhausted after adequate mental stimulation. Your pooch isn't nearly as interested in destroying things anymore. Phew!

The neighbor's front lawn is probably off-limits, but finding appropriate spaces where your pup can let its guard down is extremely beneficial. 

Put yourself in your dog's shoes (or paws) for a moment. Reflect on how it feels to enter a bakery and smell the fresh aroma of bread baking. After a few seconds, you also catch the scent of ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls, croissants, and donuts. You stop dead in your tracks to take it all in. A rush of delight washes over you — not to mention hunger.

You'd be pretty salty if that blissful moment was cut short, right? 

Let your pup take their time and fully enjoy their surroundings. 

Always Collect Your Dog's Poop

Collecting your dog's poop isn't just the nice, neighborly thing to do. It's also crucial for the environment.

Leaving remains to rot in the ground is a health hazard for humans and pets. Your dog's poop contains potentially harmful bacteria, pathogens, and diseases that can leak into the soil and contaminate the local water supply. 

Don't want to get your hands dirty? Tuck poop bags into your pocket or backpack. Insert your full hand into the bag, grab the poop, and use your free hand to flip the bag inside out. Drop the bag in a nearby trash can, and you're good to go!

Throwing out dog waste

Bring Water

Plenty of water is essential, especially if it's hot outside (or your walk exceeds 30 minutes).

Dogs don't sweat like humans do. They struggle to regulate their body temperature, so it's very easy for them to overheat. Warning signs? A panting tongue, fast and noisy breathing, or full-on collapsing. 

Bring a collapsible water bowl or pour some water into the bottle cap. Your pup is sure to lap it up. 

Pack Treats

Treats are bonding and training opportunities. You reward good behaviors and regain your pup's focus from random distractions. You can also implement treats in your dog-walking workouts (see more below). 

Avoid Hot Pavement

Summer walks are tricky. If the outside temperature is above 80 degrees, keep your walks short and select routes with plenty of shade options. 

Hot pavement burns and damages your dog's paw pads. Prevent this by walking on grass or exclusively opting for early-morning and late-evening strolls. 

Properly ID Your Pup

Just in case your pup gets lost, don't leave the house without identification. Label a dog tag with your name, phone number, and a GPS tracker. Consider also getting your dog microchipped for a reliable and permanent ID. 

Leash-Training Tips

Mini indoor training sessions are ideal since your pup has a short attention span. 

Introduce your pup to a leash — attached to a collar or harness — and let them joyfully acclimate to the concept. How to do this? Incorporate lots of treats and games. Over time, they associate food and fun with leash time.

Next, teach your pup to approach you by using an audible cue. Whenever you click your tongue, whistle, or verbalize a specific phrase, they learn to look at and walk toward you. When your dog gets it right, reward them with a snack. Repetition is key here. 

Practice inside and gradually work up to outdoor walks. At first, your pup gets distracted by various sights, sounds, and smells. This is where your previously taught cue comes in handy. 

Use the cue to regain their attention. If there's one commonality all dogs share, it's that food is their number one motivator. Everything else pales in comparison. 

Going for a walk with dog

Loose-Leash Walking

On your dog-walking workout journey, teach your furry friend to walk by your side — not in front of you. This position is known as "loose leash walking." Try saying that one five times fast!

Loose-leash walking lets your pup see you as the head honcho. Plus, walking side-by-side prevents any harmful pulling of their neck or your hands. 

If available and budget-friendly, consider enrolling your pup in formal dog-training classes. They're great for leash training and developing good social behavior.

How To Exercise With Your Dog

Ah, the fun part!

Exercising with your dog doesn't have to feel like a hassle. There are plenty of creative ways to make it fun and effective.

Is your dog leashed up and ready to rock the walk? Great!

Here's the workout rundown:

Warm Up: 5 to 10 Minutes

Start with a light walk to get your blood flowing. Progressively amp the intensity to a brisk pace while guiding your pup with the leash to control their speed. Pay attention to your fur baby. Are they trotting along or falling behind? Adjust as needed.

Work Out

Fitbit Local ambassador and Stronghorn Fitness owner Jess Martin advises, "Put rules in place so that every block you walk or every corner you turn, you do something."

Gauge your fitness level and modify the walk rules to fit what works best for you and your pup. Always keep a firm grip on the leash while doing these exercises.

Woman running with dog

At Each Corner (or Every Two Blocks): Drop it low for 10 squats. Feel free to add a jump at the top for an added challenge. 

Every Time Your Pup Stops to Smell Something: Do squat holds, squat pulses, alternating static lunges, or high knees until your dog is ready to move on

Potty Breaks: Perform toe taps on the curb. Is there an available bench nearby? Try some alternating step-ups or single-leg split squats. 

At the Dog Park, Beach, or an Open Field: Heading to a dog-friendly location? Bring toys and treats for some cardio fun! 

Exercise 1: Throw a ball or frisbee as far as you can. While your dog races to retrieve the toy, execute as many jumping lunges, mountain climbers, or burpees as possible. Don't stop until your pup returns to you with the toy. Repeat three to five times.

Martin adds, "The beauty of this exercise is that your dog is the timer." The farther you throw it, the longer and harder you work.

Exercise 2: Grab a handful of mini dog treats and let your pup smell them in your hand. Make it abundantly clear that you have the goods

Close your fist around the treats and place your hand in front of your chest. Sink into a lunge position and twist your torso over your right leg. Rotate back to the center and lift out of your lunge. Repeat these movements on the left side. Perform 10 reps total. 

As you lunge and twist, your dog should follow alongside your treat-holding hand. At the top of every other rep, reward your pup with a treat. 

Want a total ab-burner? Drop to the ground for 10 to 20 Russian twists using the same concept above. Treat your dog to a chunk of jerky or soft biscuits after every two reps. 

How Often To Walk Your Dog

Do you have a young puppy? Their tiny bodies and small feet can't handle long walks. Begin with five minutes, incorporate lots of small breaks, and progressively increase the duration. 

It's always best to check with your vet for their specific recommendations regarding your puppy. 

Ultimately, how often and how long to walk your dog depends on their age, breed, size, personality, metabolism, spayed/neutered status, and other factors. 

Many veterinarians, dog trainers, and certified dog behavior consultants advise 60 to 80 minutes daily, while others encourage two 30-minute walks five times per week.

Try not to let either deter or discourage you.

Short and sweet walks are better than none at all. Only have 10 to 15 minutes? Make them count. Push the pace by walking as hard as you can. Find routes with hills, grass, and trails. Uphill walks build strength, endurance, and muscle definition. 

Do you live close to a beach? Even better. Stroll along the shore with your fur baby for added fun and insta-worthy memories. 

Jogging with dog

Start small and slow. Give your pup time to adjust. Gradually increase your walk time or distance to avoid overworking your dog. If you notice rough-looking paw pads, a change in how your dog walks, a hesitation to climb stairs or jump on the couch, or any other abnormal behaviors, your dog needs rest and recovery. 

Dog Walkies for the Win!

Dog-walking workouts benefit you and your pooch. 

Your dog burns off excess energy, stays fit, and falls more in love with you. You gain active recovery time, countless health advantages, and a less-destroyed home. 

Follow the dog-walking safety tips, leash-training tips, and exercise ideas above for a safe, enjoyable experience. 

Outside adventures are the highlight of every dog's day. They can be yours, too. 

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