running with dogs

Exercise is just as important for your dog as it is for you. So why not go out and do it together? You can go running with your dog, or you can have a little more fun with it. Here are our tips and tricks, right from the mouths of Doggy Brace exercise aficionados. 

Combine Tricks With Fitness

Exercising doesn’t have to be boring nor limited to running and fetching. If you’re working out at home, you can also exercise your dog’s mind. For instance, try training them to weave through your legs during each lunge. Nobody likes doing lunges, but if you’re lunging while your dog is weaving through your legs, it will take your mind off the pain. 

If your dog is too large to weave under your legs, you can train them to do “lunges” with you. The dog form of lunges are long steps and stretches that match your pace. 

A great way to be active too is doggy yoga. Some dogs love to mimic and will make tricks out of nearly anything. If you have a hyper-intelligent breed, like a German Shepherd or a Border Collie, these tricks will work great to help get out their energy, and you’ll get a workout buddy too. 

Start slowly with teaching them downward dog (head down, butt up) and child’s pose (laying down with their front paws forward), then work into having them stand on their hind legs for Warrior poses. They can also do “push-ups” with you, once they have the basics down! 

Or, if you’re not into yoga, have your dog help with some simple weight training. You can do wall sits with your dog on your lap for a little extra weight. If you have a larger dog, have them balance their front paws on their legs instead. This can not only help strengthen your legs and core, but your dog’s as well! 

Training Tip: use positive reinforcement with treats! Blueberries and carrots are great healthy treats for pups, if you want to keep them healthy. 

Active Fetch

Not every game of fetch is active for you. Most of the time, you’re sitting and tossing a ball or toy while your dog is doing all the running. Change it up with a game of active fetch. It’s time for you to chase the ball too! Make it a game of “keep away” from your dog — the first one who gets to the ball, is the winner until it’s thrown again. Alternately, you can throw the toy and then run the other direction, which will get your dog to chase you.

We recommend doing this on a level yard — neatly cut grass or dirt without any large dips or sharp rocks around. You and your dog will be chasing a ball very quickly, after all, and we don’t want either of you to get hurt. On top of that, keep your dog’s energy level and excitement in check. If they see you running with them, they may go over the top and hurt themselves with  too much speed or pep in their step. 

A common way for a dog to hurt their legs is by running — they can stumble, turn too quickly, stop too quickly, or land too hard on their front or back paws. If you’re worried about this, a dog ACL brace from Doggy Brace is a great way to help prevent injuries. 

It is a stifle brace that controls the backward slide of the tibia and femur, preventing these bones from sliding outside of the natural range of motion. Meaning it helps your dog walk comfortably and safely. Our braces are designed for comfort. We use neoprene, which is a sturdy material and will hold up to years of use. It’s resistant to weather, scratches, and heat. The brace should last your pup as long as they need the support! 

Take a Hike…Literally

Assuming your dog is up for the task, a hike is a wonderful activity and a great exercise that gets you away from running with your dog. 

Hiking gives your pup new mental stimulation like new smells to explore, new sites to see, and new things to hear. If you notice your dog sniffing everything they can, try not to rush them! It’s good for them to get back in touch with their instincts and experience the outdoors through their nose. 

Hiking on a dirt path, while messy, is also better for them than walking on pavement. The dirt is cooler and helps strengthen their limbs. Most dogs will be fine with just their bare paws, but some may need boots to help them get a better grip or to protect their paw pads. 

Beware of making your dog a weekend warrior though! Never push your dog with a 5 mile hike if they’re only used to walking a couple of blocks each day. This increases the risk of injury and dehydration. Plus, no one likes to drag a whining and tired pup down a mountain! 

And, like always, keep your dog on a leash for their safety. Hike = out in nature, so expect there to be nature to chase! 

That’s it! Those are our three favorite exercises with dogs, and ones that you can do safely during the pandemic. Give them a try for yourself!