Working out with pets

Everyone knows a dog is a woman’s best friend, but did you know they can be your best workout partner too?

As well as loving a brisk walk, dogs enjoy playing games and this is where you can join in. Give walk time a new lease of life by finding new ways to keep your pet engaged (or simply tire them out quicker!)

Teach your pet to ‘kick’ a football with their nose so you can pass the ball to each other. Fetch can be a game you can play too – whilst waiting for them to fetch the ball, throw in some squats or lunges, or run on the spot until they get back.  

You can play tug of war, throw a frisbee, or cycle alongside your dog instead of walking. You can even turn them into your running buddy and take them for a run! Canicross is cross-country running with dogs, where the dog is attached to your waist with a harness, and you run in a team! It’s a great way to keep you both fit and strengthen the bond between you and your pal.  

Exercising with your pet doesn’t have to mean just dogs. Cats need playtime too – and because they love stalking their prey they love a game of hide and seek.

Why is it good for me?

Getting outside into the fresh air every day will bring a host of mental and physical health benefits for you and your pooch – better sleep, good heart health, and lower stress levels.

Throwing balls and frisbees are great for building upper body strength and coordination, and running around the house with your cat will be fun and double up as a good workout for you both.

How much does it cost?

Potentially nothing – outdoors is free, but you might want to buy a frisbee, ball or toy to play with your pet.

Canicross starter kits that include the harness, bungee line and waist belt start from around £50 but once you’ve got the kit you can use it any time.

What equipment do I need?

You’ll need any toys that you want to play with, or a bike if you’re cycling alongside your dog.

If you’re running with your dog you’ll need a comfortably fitting harness that’s designed for running and doesn’t restrict their breathing. You should be able to fit two fingers around the neck, chest and waist, and it’s important to have the right line between you and your dog too – one with bungee integration for shock absorption, at the right length and tension so it’s safe for both of you.

You can find more information on the correct kit in this Beginner’s Guide to Canicross.