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Dog-Friendly, At-Home Workout Routine

If you’re looking for a silver lining to all this time at home, the ability to hang with our dogs all day every day is a big one. In fact, it’s likely your dog has never been happier than they are right now.
Although crowded dog park visits and long walks in densely packed areas are out for the time being, that doesn’t mean you and your dog have to, or should, forgo workouts altogether. In fact, there are some fun and easy things you can do from the comfort of your own home, in your backyard or, as long as you stay mindful of your local regulations and social distancing, outside in your neighborhood. Along with some of our own favorite suggestions, we asked Lauren Boggi, fitness expert and creator of Cardio-Cheer-Sculpting, to weigh in on some dog-friendly exercises to add to your at-home workout routine.

Indoor dog-friendly workout ideas

Since we’re all staying home for the foreseeable future, it’s a good idea to learn how to exercise with your dog while inside. Some easy ideas include:

  1. Incorporate your dog into a situp routine: Get your dog to lie at your feet while you get into a situp position with your back on the floor, your legs bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. At each full situp, reward yourself and your dog by giving your pup a quick scratch on the head. If your dog is having trouble sitting still while you work out, provide them with a chew or toy to keep them occupied.
  2. Booty workout: This exercise is a great way to train your pup to sit and stay while you sweat. Ask your dog to sit in front of you while you perform squats. Each time you squat, give your dog a pat or praise for staying.
  3. Side-lunge to reward: Stand with feet parallel and hip distance apart. Take a big step to the side with your right foot, lunge to a 90 degree angle, then rise and return to center. Hang your right arm down with palm facing forward and cue your dog to touch his nose to your palm. Alternate sides, rewarding your dog after four reps.
  4. Play tug-of-war and work your abs: Work your abs with a classic game of tug-of-war. Grab one end of a pull or rope toy and allow your pup to grab the other end. Move into a “boat pose,” with your sit bones firmly on the ground, and your legs raised so your body forms into a V shape. Pass the toy from hand to hand while maintaining your balance with your pulling dog—what a burn!
  5. Planks with hand raises to “touch”: Brace your abs and get into a high plank (or pushup) position with your hands under your shoulders and toes curled under. Raise your right hand and ask your dog to “touch” (touch their nose to your hand). Put your right hand down, count 5 seconds, then repeat with your left hand. Try to keep up alternating hands for a full minute before resting. Be sure to praise and reward your dog for their part in the routine!

Outdoor dog-friendly workout ideas

If you’re able to get outside for your workout, you’re in for advantages like fresh air and some of that all-important vitamin D. Of course, you’ll want to avoid crowded areas and still practice social distancing, but if you have the space, the following outdoor activities can help get your heart pumping.

  1. HIIT walk: A regular walk is always nice, but adding some walking lunges and/or speed-walking intervals will get your heart rate up higher and challenge your dog to keep their focus on your changing pace.
  2. Active fetch: Your pup will love a game of fetch, and you can make it more active for you by doing jumping jacks, pushups or squats between the time you throw the ball and your dog retrieves and returns it to you.
  3. Ball race: You can make a regular game of fetch more interesting by turning it into a race. Throw the ball, then run with your dog to see who gets to it first.
  4. Interval sprints: Give a jog around the block a little more oomph. Use a running leash so you can go hands-free and focus on the activity. Use natural finish lines and markers throughout your neighborhood to delineate when to switch up the intensity of your run. Jog a block, then sprint to the mailbox three doors down, run at a moderate speed to the street sign, etc. Like the HIIT walk, this will raise your heart rate as you mix up your normal routine. Cue your dog with commands like “ease up” to slow down and “heel” to have them keep pace with you.

Advanced dog-friendly workout ideas

These moves may not be too challenging for you on your own, but can you train your dog to partake in the same (or similar) actions? While you work out your muscles, use your mental muscle to teach your dog these tricks.

  1. Pooch-friendly pushups: Sure, you may be able to crank out a set of 10 pushups, but can you train your dog to do them with you? If you need some additional help training your dog to perform this behavior, check out our tutorial.
  2. Pooch floor explosions: With a treat in your hand, crouch on the floor, then power up to standing. Use the treat as a lure and have your dog sit while you crouch and then cue them to jump, stand or dance as you stand up. Repeat as many times as you like. You’ll get your heart rate up and your pup will have a blast earning their treat. (Just be sure to give the treat to them at the end as a reward!)
  3. Burpees with your buddy: To be successful, your pup will need to first master pushups and floor explosions. Start with both you and your dog lying on your stomachs on the ground. Do a full push up, hop your feet toward your hands, then explode into a jump. Ask your dog to move from down, to sit and then into a jump. It will take a bit of coordination on both your parts, but it’s a fun one to do together!

In these stressful times, exercise can help alleviate tension that our pets may pick up on. And, since we’re at home with our dogs right now, it means our dogs can work out with us. Those cute puppy dog eyes might even motivate us to keep moving, since activities like this help you bond with your dog and get healthier at the same time.