Get going today and see who's faster and more fit — you or your dog (or cat if he's into this sort of thing)!
Exercise 1: Shuttle runs
Remember these from elementary school? Practice shuttle runs somewhere with enough space, and scale the workout based on your dog's size and ability level.
- An ideal distance for shuttle runs is 84 feet, but feel free to set up in a garage or another indoor space if you have less room.
- Select three line markers that you'll run toward. You can use an actual line on the court or field or mark each spot with a ball, cone or other object. They should be at three varying distances.
- Once you've set up your markers, start at one side and start the chase. First, run to the closest marker and then back to the start. Next, run out to the second marker and back, and finally run all the way to the third marker (farthest away) and back. Try to repeat the whole run three to five times and work up to more as your dog (and you) becomes stronger. If your dog doesn't naturally chase you, grab his favorite toy or treat and coax him along for the game!
Exercise 2: Box jumps
Agility is the name of the game and will challenge you just as much as your dog!
- First, find a sturdy box/plyometric box (available at sporting goods stores or online) that you'll use to jump up on. They boxes come in varying heights and as your skill level improves, you can up the size of the boxes. Get several sturdy boxes set up with a set for both you and your dog.
- Feel free to start low at 6 inches, but Dolvett recommends 12 inches as a good starting height for a medium to large-sized dog.
- For you: Start with feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart, about a foot away from the box. Prepare to jump up on the box by first squatting down slightly while swinging your arms back and then propel yourself up and forward so you land squarely on the box. Then jump down and repeat 10 times back to back. That equals one set.
- For your dog: Start by introducing this new game to your dog so he gets used to it. The movement for your dog's exercise is similar and encourage him to jump up on the box five to 10 times depending on his skill level. Feel free to use positive reinforcement when he successfully jumps up either in the form of praise and/or a treat. Together, work through five to 10 sets, resting about a minute in between sets and work down to 30 seconds of rest as your ability improves.
Exercise 3: Plank fetch
This move is more for you but lets you multitask by bonding with your dog at the same time. Get ready to work your core.
- Start by grabbing your dog's favorite toy.
- Get down on the floor ready to go into a plank position. Start with your stomach flat on the floor and put the weight of your body on your forearms with palms directly on the floor. Keep your shoulders directly over your elbows with your legs straight and body in line. Lift your body off the floor, supporting yourself with your forearms and your toes. Make sure your butt isn't sticking up!
- You'll start to feel this right away, so take your dog's toy in one hand and carefully extend it out to the side while maintaining the plank position. Let your dog follow the toy around, hold it, and then give it a toss for your dog to fetch. As soon as he brings the toy back to you, release the plank and go to the other side. Alternate for 20 to 30 throws or until your dog gets bored.
Exercise 4: Mini obstacle course/Slalom run
Get creative and set up a mini obstacle course in this fun exercise that will challenge you both.
- Use cones or another type of marker and place items about 10 feet apart. Five to seven objects work great — feel free to stagger them or keep them in a straight line. It's up to you.
- Start by bobbing and weaving in and out of the course and then return to the starting point. You can add obstacles such as a rope ladder or a hula hoop for your dog to jump through, a mini shuttle run station as part of the course, plyo boxes and other exercises to up the difficulty level. When you get comfortable with the course, teach your dog and time yourselves to see who's the fastest!
Before starting a new exercise program with your dog, please consult with your veterinarian to make sure your pet is up to the challenge.
More on pet exercise
Top dog parks around the country
Toys that boost your dog's health
Yoga for dogs