Ten Top Work Outs for You and Your Dog

Thanks to YouTube and many enthusiastic practitioners, there’s no shortage of options.
By Claudia Kawczynska, December 2020, Updated June 2021

If you and your dog often wind up spending a lot more time indoors during the winter months, getting a lot less exercise all around, you may both enjoy some new home-based workout routines. There are many videos to help you get started—from simple stretching exercises to moving to the beat in dog dancing. Exercising with your dog is a unique opportunity to create an energy flow between you that reinforces your bond while doing something good for both your own and your dog’s physical well-being. Here are a few we think will inspire you to go “with the flow."

DOGA

For Dog Yoga, aptly called Doga, try these ancient stretching exercises, which will relax and refresh you. Your dogs’ play bows sync up with the “downward-facing dog” posture, perhaps the most natural pose for all dogs. Also, fans of Doga tell us that there are many benefits to teaching your dog to allow all parts of her body to be touched, including hyper-sensitive paws and toes; for one, it can make nail clipping easier. Namaste.

See how it’s done by Nic Bello and his Chihuahua, Poncho. Bonus: You’re guaranteed to feel more relaxed after listening to Nic’s soft and calming invocations to his pup.

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And in the step-by-step instructional video from AnimalWised.

Then, be inspired by this amazing example of Doga from an extremely well-trained dog

WORKOUTS/EXERCISES

You may have seen the recent study suggesting that exercising or brisk walking for at least 11 minutes a day could lessen “the undesirable health consequences of sitting for hours and hours,” which, sadly, many of us have been doing this past Covid-19 year. It also concluded that only 35 minutes a day of moderate activities or brisk walking can actually extend our lives. Message being, we all need to move more. So, along with getting up and walking your dog, throw in some brief workout sessions, too. Here are a few to inspire you.

For general workout sessions, let’s begin with Secret, the dog who can do just about everything, including household chores and Irish jigs. Her human, Mary, is a student plus an extremely talented dog trainer; you’ll be flabbergasted by what Secret has mastered. Check them out practicing a routine on Instagram too.

Heather Casey and her two small dogs demonstrate basic core Pilates. Looks like they all enjoyed themselves.

Kim, owner of Fitness for Fido, puts us and her dog Ike through our paces in her 10-minute workout that uses only a small hurdle and, of course, plenty of dog treats. Jump, squat, hop, crawl, repeat …

Here’s a Doberman watching a video of herself and her person exercising together. Not only does she recognize her own moves, she replicates them. Like a body builder at the gym counting reps in a mirror, this is a dog transfixed by her own routine on a TV screen! Incredible, isn’t it?

CANINE FREESTYLE/DOGGIE DANCING

For dancing with your dog, also called Canine Freestyle, there are hundreds of remarkable examples from this sport’s international competitions. It’s possible to binge for days on these amazing performances. For us perhaps less graceful and agile folks, this sport isn’t called “freestyle” for nothing; even simple spins and crossovers (the dog going through your legs) would be a lot of fun to try out. So to quote David Bowie, “Let’s dance … let’s sway.”

To get you started, and for a performance that might be more at a beginner’s level, check out the instructional video from PetTrust, a leading humane organization in the UK.

Sandra Roth, a ballet and jazz dancer, and her Lizzy definitely took this sport to new heights in their winning, artful performance. According to Roth, she and Lizzy got off to a slow start; for the first three years, Roth concentrated on Lizzy’s social behavior rather than dog sports. But eventually, Lizzy gained confidence and started to enjoy the audience attention. Her moves—done at a distance from Roth—are breathtaking, and she nails the intricate, almost four-minute-long routine! Pay attention to Lizzy’s paw lift at :33, her high leap at 1:30, her paw/leg grab at 2:03 and front leg crossovers at 2:58. Gasp!

For Heelwork at its finest, check out the perfect synchronicity between Ilina Polina and her dog Ilim in their 2016 routine.

Photo credit: Instagram_My_aussie_gal