Q | Beyond the obvious walks and runs, how can I include my dog in my workouts?
A | Dogs are extremely versatile workout partners and great companions for a variety of activities, says Dawn Celapino, ACE-certified group and personal trainer who specializes in human-canine workouts. She suggests adding variety to your usual activity routine by doing walking lunges, pushups, pull-ups, or dips while your dog is in a sitting or down position. Both of you will reap the cardio benefits of your workout, plus your pup gets obedience training while you strength-train.
Alternatively, break up walks by adding short sprints — high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for you and endurance training for your dog.
If you are a confident cyclist and have a large, energetic, athletic dog, you may want to try bikejoring, in which dogs wear harnesses that attach to bikes so they can pull and run as you ride (cross-country skijoring is the winter alternative).
Hiking, swimming, and stand-up paddleboarding are other dog-friendly activities.
Canine-oriented group fitness is also becoming more commonplace. Circuit-style classes, such as those offered by Celapino’s Leash Your Fitness in San Diego or by Go Fetch Run in some New York City parks, are ways to get sweaty with your best friend. And “doga” — yoga you can do with your pooch — gives new meaning to “downward dog.”
Celapino warns that not all dogs will love — or even tolerate — all activities, depending on their build, size, and temperament. Long-distance running can be a particular challenge. Some canines, such as border collies and vizslas, are built to withstand long distances. Others, like pugs and bulldogs, can’t run a long time because of their predisposition for breathing problems.
No matter what workout you choose, remember to watch out for hot surfaces and to keep your dog hydrated, especially in the heat.