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Cats and Dogs

How to Create a Fitness Program You AND Your Pet Will Love

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog

woman running on beach with husky

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: exercise is an important part of your pet’s overall health and well-being… and by now, you know how important exercise is for humans, too. Sedentary pets and people alike run the risk of becoming overweight and developing health issues that can shorten their lifespans, increase their risks for other health problems, and cause discomfort. Why not kill two birds with one stone and create a fitness program that you and your pet will both love?

If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry- we’ve got you covered. Keep reading.

How to Create a Fitness Program You AND Your Pet Will Both Love

Dog Owners

Before jumping into the latest health craze, it’s important to take some time to think about what you and your pooch might enjoy doing together. This all boils down to two things: your preferences and Fido’s preferences. Some dogs love to run, others are natural-born swimmers, and some would rather be couch potatoes. The easiest way to figure out which activity will be best for you and your pet is to consider which activities they currently seem to enjoy, and build your program from there.


Some dogs, such as Labs, Retrievers, and Irish Water Spaniels (of course) are naturals in the water. Some of the more surprising water-loving breeds that you might not have thought about are the Poodle, Newfoundland, and many Setters. Don’t limit your dog based on breed, though. There are many dogs that aren’t typical water dogs who enjoy the occasional dip.

You could always “test the waters,” so to speak, with your dog to find out if swimming is their thing. Try introducing them to shallow water first and observing their reaction. If they seem to enjoy the water, you can slowly try exposing them to deeper water.

Most water dogs enjoy retrieving floating toys, but many are just as content to chase and splash with their owners.

Although some dogs enjoy splashing in the shallow end, they may not be well-suited to swimming. Typically, breeds with flat faces and short muzzles don’t do well in water. These breeds include but aren’t limited to Bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers, Pekingese. Other dogs may fair better on land due to their builds such as Dachshunds, Maltese, Basset Hounds, and Corgis. Always observe your dog with caution near water.

Stand-up paddleboarding

If your dog is one that enjoys water, why not take them out on the paddleboard? You’ll get a great core workout while your favorite paw-tner practices their balance as they ride on the nose. Always outfit your pooch with a life jacket before heading out on the water, even if they are skilled swimmers.


Running just comes naturally to some people, and likewise, some dogs. If your dog enjoys running laps around your home or yard, it might be time to consider taking up a new hobby together. Common running dogs include Greyhounds, Labs, Weimaraners, Vizslas, Border Collies, Dalmatians, and Huskies. Most dogs will enjoy running to some extent- but not all were built for distance or speed.

Do some research on your dog’s breed, and find out whether he or she is a natural runner. As a rule of thumb, dogs with shorter muzzles and squished faces are prone to overheating. Always keep runs at a comfortable pace and a reasonable distance. Many dogs could benefit from running 1-2 miles, but anything more than that could be dangerous for them.

Backyard games

When it comes to backyard fitness for your pooch, fetch seems to be the gold-standard. It brings them joy, reinforces your bond, and helps them burn energy. But as far as helping you break a sweat, fetch might come up short. Why not try playing soccer with your dog, or engaging in a vigorous game of tag? You’ll both get your heart rates up and while enjoying each other’s company.

Dog-friendly classes

Does dog yoga sound appealing to you? What about a K-9 boot camp? If you’re looking to shake up your fitness routine, check out dog-friendly classes near you! Adding some variety to your daily workout can keep you and your pup from getting bored or overtraining.

Whatever you opt to do with your dog, be sure you’re providing plenty of water, rest, quality nutrition, and a joint supplement to help support your dog’s mobility.

Cat Owners

Most cats’ fitness requirements tend to be lower than dogs, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pounce on the opportunity to get in shape with your furry friend. Sure, your cat may not enjoy going for runs or riding on your paddleboard (unless it’s one of these breeds), but that doesn’t mean you can’t capitalize on your cat’s hobbies to help you get in shape. Try any one of these following moves, we’re sure your feline will be delighted:

Fill the food bowl

Lift the lid, scoop the food, and call your cat (as if Fluffy isn’t already there- we all know she came running as soon as she heard you walk near her food). Repeat on your cat’s command.

Scoop the litter box

This move is good for stretching your lower back and hamstrings. Begin by bending over the litter box, and then grab the scoop and remove all offending clumps. Repeat on your cat’s command.

Cat food lifts

If you’re looking for upper body strength, this exercise is purr-fect. Go to your nearest pet supply store, find the heaviest bag of high-quality cat food you can find, and lift it into your cart. Once you get it home, lift it out of your car and into your house. Open the bag and make sure your cat approves of your selection. If not, you’re in luck! You get to go back to the store and do it all over again!

All kidding aside, most cats do a pretty good job of taking their fitness into their own paws. If you have concerns about your cat’s fitness levels, you can always
add some play to their day with enticing toys or puzzle feeders.

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