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exercise with your dogSunny skies, warmer temps and fresh air make for enjoyable workouts outside of the four walls of the gym. Consider a canine companion for these sweat sessions. Most dogs love walks, and adding new exercise options boosts the fun factor and can help your dog maintain a slim physique or shed extra pounds. Plus, on days when you need extra motivation, your pooch is always game for an outdoor adventure.

To ensure safety, it’s best to have your dog checked by the vet before taking on a new exercise regimen. Is your pup a small breed but carrying a few extra pounds? Then don’t just jump in with a five-mile run, but progress slowly. Start small, and then increase the duration and/or intensity of routines.

Always watch your pup for signs of distress – from heavy panting to dragging or stopping altogether – and follow his/her cues. On warm days, bring water, seek shade and take breaks in the heat. Keep your dog’s coat short to help facilitate cooling.

Fun Options for Outdoor Exercise with Your Dog:

  1. Walk – Kind of a no-brainer, but ditch the automatic pilot routine. Mix up your routes and try new paths to spike your dog’s interest and provide some new scenery and smells. Drive to a new area and then walk the dog there sometimes simply to get out of your neighborhood periodically. Or vary your pace occasionally, with intervals of slower walking to a faster gait.
  2. Jog – If your vet clears your dog to run, take him/her as your partner. Always use a leash if you are in a congested area or where there is ample traffic. And adjust your mileage and your pace to let your dog build stamina. Intersperse walking and water breaks as necessary. On very hot, humid days, let the dog stay home.
  3. Hike – Head for the mountains or hills if possible, and watch your dog take in lots of new terrain and scents. Make sure the trails are dog-friendly, and don’t let your pet nibble on any plants. You’ll both get a good workout as you climb. Go slowly coming down and watch your own, and your dog’s, footing. Check for fleas and ticks afterward.
  4. Fetch – Another tried-and-true one, but you can sneak in some exercise while you’re waiting for you dog to return with the ball or frisbee. Do some walking lunges, squats, mountain climbers, burpees, push-ups, planks and crunches while your dog runs for the ball.
  5. Cycle – If you pup has a lot of energy, let him/her jog alongside while you bike. Use a Springer to attach the leash to your bike frame; it keeps the dog safe and absorbs some of his/her tugging so you don’t fall.
  6. Swim – Many dogs love water. If you can find a dog-friendly pool, go for it, and jump in with your pup. Or try the beach and encourage an open-water session. Always keep your eyes on your dog, consider a life vest for your pooch and stay close for safety. If all else fails, buy a kiddie pool and chase your dog in and out of it.
  7. Dog boot camp – There actually are fitness classes for you and your four-legged friend, such as K9 Fit Club throughout the U.S. Humans perform most of the intense moves while the canines practice obedience drills.
  8. Doga – Yes, this is really a thing. Together, you can practice your upward and downward-facing dogs. And you can use your pooch as a prop in some poses. This seems to be more about bonding than exercising, but it could be a cooldown from your workouts or a recovery day option.

Now, get your pup and enjoy some outdoor exercise with your dog!