How to Exercise With Your Dog

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen Claussen, DVM on July 17, 2023
3 min read

When you bring a pet dog into your family, you commit to giving them their best life. This includes making sure they get enough exercise and activity each day. 

Consider your dog’s age and ability before choosing how you want to exercise with them. An older dog may need a low-impact activity, like walking. A young puppy may be more active, but you'll still want to keep an eye on them to avoid injuries while playing. Possible activities include:

  • Going for a walk or run
  • Playing fetch in your yard
  • Taking a swim in your pool or a nearby lake
  • Spending time at the dog park

Remember that exercising with your dog isn’t just about physical activity. You’re also investing time in your relationship and bonding with one another.

Prioritize your dog’s health. If you work full-time outside of your home, time to exercise with your dog isn’t in abundance. Because of this, you’ll have to be very purposeful in making time for your pet. Remember that quality is more important than quantity. 

If you can’t go for a long walk, go for a short one. Spending 10-15 minutes outside exploring is better than skipping the activity because you don’t feel like you have enough time. 

Incorporate toys. Exercise for your pet doesn’t have to be boring. Play fetch, even if your dog just runs around and plays without returning the toys back to you. Remember that all toys are not created equally — at least in the eyes of your dog. 

Have a variety of toys at home for them to choose from. If your dog is significantly older or younger, choose a toy that is easier for them to hold in their mouth. If your dog is more active and strong, choose toys that pose a challenge for them.

Popular toys for your pet dog include:

  • Tennis balls
  • Toys that squeak when squeezed or bitten
  • Discs made of soft, flexible rubber
  • Rope toys for playing tug of war
  • Plush toys in fun shapes and colors
  • Hollow toys that can be filled with a treat, like peanut butter

Remember to leave toys out for your pet when you leave for work. If they get bored, they can spend time running around the house playing with toys on their own while they eagerly await your return.

What if my dog isn’t interested? Be consistent, patient, and persistent in helping your dog stay active. Choose an activity that piques their interest, and bring treats along to entice them to participate. 

Remember the importance of diet. With the proper nutrition, your dog will have more energy to play. If your pet is unusually lethargic or disinterested, they may not be getting the adequate balance of nutrients in their diet. Talk to your vet and consider switching food or supplementing their diet for more energy. 

Hire a dog walker. When you have days and weeks that leave you working overtime and spending too much time away from your dog, hire help. Look online or ask around your neighborhood to find someone who offers dog-walking services. Someone can come by your home to let your dog out for a walk and bathroom break. If possible, your dog should have the opportunity to exercise multiple times each day.

Invest in doggie daycare.  If you don’t want a stranger at your house, consider a doggie day out. Doggie daycare services allow them to be social and active instead of lounging around the house all day.