There are plenty of really good reasons to get a dog (think: adulting, companionship, rescue, parenthood training, or just the inability to resist a totally heart-melting face).
Not like you need more convincing, but owning a fur baby can also improve your health. Studies show dogs can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol; reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; motivate you to exercise; and even help you lose weight. [Dogs and health. A review of documented connections]. Larsen BA, Lingaas F. Tidsskrift for den Norske laegeforening : tidsskrift for praktisk medicin, ny raekke, 1998, Feb.;117(30):0029-2001. Dog-walking: motivation for adherence to a walking program. Johnson RA, Meadows RL. Clinical nursing research, 2010, Jul.;19(4):1552-3799. It's like the gym buddy you've always wanted... only way cuter.
"A dog may just be your greatest workout partner ever," says Adam Rosante, strength and mental performance coach and dog lover who trains with his pup every morning. "There are no plans to be made or broken. No dramatic stories to commiserate over. Just a hard-working, fun-loving buddy to keep pace by your side. In fact, if you're willing to put in a little effort and consistency on the front end, your dog can actually hold you accountable to your workouts."
He's not kidding: Rosante trained his dog by placing a toy and leash by the front door next to his sneakers. After two weeks of a consistent morning routine, his dog now has a habit of waking him up on days Rosante tries to sleep in.
"Dogs are highly trainable," he says. "They just need love, positive reinforcement, and consistency from you. If your dog isn't used to a routine like this, give it time, have patience, and be consistent."
That consistency is key, and there are few things more regular than your four-legged friend needing to go outside for a walk, which you can turn into a full-body training session with just a few bodyweight exercises.
How to use this list: You'll need a leash, a throwable dog toy, treats, and a shallow cup or collapsable bowl for your friend for this workout. (Check out Chewy for great options.) Perform each exercise below in order for the suggested amount of reps. If your dog doesn't cooperate right away (ours didn't for this shoot!), don't stress. Do your best to train your pooch and just have fun with it.
Important to note: If you have a flat-snout dog like a French bulldog, extend the rest periods to make sure your pup is getting enough oxygen. These breeds aren't able to take in full breaths the way other breeds do. If in doubt, ask your vet for activity recommendations.
Start out with a light jog to a nearby park, field, or beach. This usually works best after your dog does his business. Then, work on training the dog to stay focused on the task (jogging) rather than getting distracted by every scent he finds. Use a leash to help control speed and guide the route. Taking the same route often will help your dog know what to expect, but you can also switch it up from time to time.
Make it harder: For a cardio challenge, pick up the speed and run for your desired distance or time.
Squat & Throw
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the dog toy in both hands. Hinge at hips and send butt back to lower down into a squat. (Go as low as you can while keeping chest lifted and without losing the natural curve in lower back.) As you begin to rise, explode up onto your toes arching back as you throw the toy as far back over your head and behind you as possible. As soon as your dog returns with the toy, that's one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.
Reverse Lunge With Torso Twist & Treat
Break a treat into five small pieces. Let your dog smell them in your hands, then close hands into fists and hold directly in front of chest. Standing with feet hip-width apart, step left foot back and lower into a lunge. At the bottom of the move, twist torso over your front thigh, then reverse the move to return to stand. Repeat on the other side. That's one rep. Complete 10 reps. At the top of every other rep, reward your dog with a treat.
Place something on the ground to indicate a starting line. Break a treat into four small pieces and let your dog smell it in your hands. From the starting line, run backward for 40 yards, then run forward to starting line. Then, lateral-shuffle 40 yards to the left and lateral-shuffle to the right back to starting position. Repeat the 40-yard shuffle to the right, then back to start. Finally, run backward again for 40 yards and sprint as fast as you can back to the starting line. Give a treat. That's 1 round. Complete 4 rounds.
Burpees & Bounds
Start standing. With your dog's attention, throw the toy as far as you can. Perform as many burpees as possible until your dog returns with the toy. Repeat 3 to 5 times. Each time, aim to throw the toy further and beat your last round of burpees.
Russian Twist With a Treat
Sit on the ground with feet flat and a treat in your hand, broken into five small pieces. Let your dog smell it. Lean back about 45 degrees and lift your heels. While keeping back straight, twist your torso to the left and tap hands to the floor, then twist your torso to the right and tap hands to the floor. That's 1 rep. Complete 10 reps, giving your dog a treat after every other rep.
Toss & Stretch
Throw the toy as far as you can. Bring right heel to right butt to stretch your quad. Try to keep knees in line and pelvis tucked under. Hold the stretch until your dog returns. Repeat the throw and stretch with the opposite quad, hamstrings, calves, and upper back.
Walk briskly home.