Can Exercise Boost a Dog’s Confidence?

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Regular exercise provides a plethora of health benefits, to both humans and dogs, including reduced disease risk and longer and higher quality lifespans. One of the indirect benefits of regular exercise, and one that doesn’t get as much attention, is that being fit and active can boost self-confidence.


Exercise and Confidence

Personally, I have found that exercise and being fit has been a tremendous boost to my confidence. As an inherently introverted person, my teenage and early adult years found me avoiding the limelight and shying away from public speaking or almost any situation that would force me to be out in front of people. Yes, I was an introvert. But I also lacked the confidence to be the center of attention.


Once committed to regular exercise, I noticed a gradual change in my confidence levels. Being fit meant that I felt better physically and mentally and this translated to an increase in confidence. The next thing I knew, I was putting myself “out there” more often, tackling public speaking assignments, presenting at the office, and more often engaging with people than ever before.


Indeed, regular exercise can increase self-confidence in several ways:

  • You look and feel better.
  • You become smarter, or at least, exercise can improve brain function and memory.
  • Exercise reduces stress, which often translates into an increase in confidence (as there is less to worry about).
Jack is always ready to exercise.

Jack is always ready to exercise.

Canine Exercise and Confidence

Like with humans, I have noticed that exercise can increase the confidence in dogs. Our most recent two dogs, Jack and Maggie, are both rescues that came to us with some pretty major issues. Jack was “unadoptable” and on prozac due to bad behavior, in part due to lack of confidence, while Maggie was a fearful dog. Fortunately for our dogs, they both exercise daily (if not multiple times per day) and there is little doubt in my mind that this has helped them build confidence over time. You can see the change by the way they interact with us and others, in the way they have expanded their ability and desire to learn, and by the way they generally carry themselves.


Why do Fit Dogs have Confidence?

I suspect that many of the same reasons that humans feel more confidence from regular exercise will also apply to dogs, with the possible exception of looking better (I don’t think dogs care what they look like!). There is one more reason why regular exercise can increase a dog’s confidence: the human canine bond that occurs when working out with your dog. You see, when you and your dog exercise together, you are strengthening the bond between you. The simple act of doing things together, and experiencing the thrill of exercise (and movement) together, will surely strengthen your bond with your pet, and therefore help to increase your dog’s confidence levels.

Even super-shy Maggie like to get in on the exercise activities.

Even super-shy Maggie likes to get in on the exercise activities.

As if we needed any more reasons to exercise with our dogs, add improved confidence to the list of benefits of working out with your pet.

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  1. Hi Y’all!

    Our most important job is to exercise our humans. Make them exercise!

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka Brown
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Beauty Is In the Eyes of the BeholderMy Profile

  2. Not sure if it builds confidence or not, but the time we spend together with Mom walking, running, working on our sports are all fabulous bonding opportunities and they bring us closer. It also helps us find others who like the same things we do which opens us all up more because we are in a group with others who understand us.
    Emma recently posted…Lessons Learned, Title EarnedMy Profile

  3. Exercise is important for all dogs. The mental stimulation of being active and interacting with their owners does wonders for any dog with behavior problems. I know my dog goes bonkers (starts racing around the house) if he is cooped up too much. A tired puppy is a happy puppy…and a happy mom.
    Anne recently posted…A Guide To Young Cat Wellness TestingMy Profile

  4. That’s great to know! And yes, I can definitely see how exercising with your dog can strengthen the bond.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Turn boring walks with your dog into exciting adventures!My Profile

  5. I’m sure it helps… Mens sana in corpore sano, think Mr. Juvenal was right :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog THIS MOMENT…My Profile

  6. What a great benefit to exercise the bond that strengthens between you and your dog.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…{This Moment} See Beautiful With A FitDog FridayMy Profile

  7. I think it all makes perfect sense, and I love to have another reason to keep us motivated to exercise!
    Jan K recently posted…FitDog Friday & #52Snapshots of LifeMy Profile

  8. Exercise DEFINITELY boosts my boy’s confidence! He runs beside my ATV or other vehicle over 5 miles daily (divided up) and if anything, he has TOO MUCH confidence……

  9. That’s an interesting thought. I think you’re right that exercise does build confidence in dogs. Aside from the physical aspect and bonding, they get to have new experiences each time, especially if they see new people and dogs or visit new places while exercising.
    Elaine recently posted…10 Tips for Exercising Your Dog in the SummerMy Profile

  10. Exercise certainly build a bond and confidence. Love to talk further about your work with both dogs at BlogPaws S

  11. I think you hit the nail on the head at the end there. All the physical benefits of working out are great, but the best benefit is arguably the strengthened bond with your pup.

  12. I honestly believe that doing workouts can boost a dog’s confidence! I’ve seen it with Phoenix. Plus the more conditioned they are the less risk they are for injury which boosts my confidence so it’s win win.
    Lauren Miller (ZoePhee) recently posted…Fit Dogs Under The Rainbow!My Profile

  13. I always wonder if dogs enjoy their games (bitey face, tug, etc) as much as I enjoy playing tennis and bowling.
    jan recently posted…Who wore it better?My Profile

  14. Exercise stimulates chemical activity in the brain. Serotonin, endorphins and BDNF are neurochemicals that are released into the brain as a result of exercise. These are associated with decreased levels of stress, euphoric feelings, mood enhancing, and reduction of depression 🙂

  15. I think Mr. N loves the physicality of it but he also really enjoys meeting new people and smelling new things.

  16. I’m pretty sure regular exercise strengthens a dog’s confidence, certainly when incorporating different fitness tools (backpacks, ability equipment, etc.) & walking/hiking/swimming in different locations –> those are all great socializers!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Fit Dogs Can Carry Their Own Poop Bags!My Profile

  17. Never thought of it that way but makes sense. In that case, Cookie needs LESS exercise LOL
    Jana Rade recently posted…Should People Have To Pass an IQ Test before Getting a Dog?My Profile

  18. People will do agility with their dogs to build confidence, too. Same thinking! The pups accomplish something, feel good about it, work together as a team with their human. All good stuff!
    Diane recently posted…A FitDog Happy Mother’s Day!My Profile

  19. I think most activities people do with their dogs help build the dog’s confidence, exercise included. Excellent post.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…SwimmingMy Profile

  20. I laugh at Harley now that we’re walking further because we need exercise AND with Jax we walk more often. Today Harley dug his heels in the ground when he realized I was heading in the direction of the “long walk” it was as if he was saying “heck no, I’m not going again!” I made him go, and he eventually got into it. Too funny. I agree with you, exercise is key to confidence, happiness, and healthy living.

  21. Exercising together is great physically and mentally for both dog and biped. It’s definitely a win, win all around. 🙂
    Monika recently posted…Happy Mother’s DayMy Profile

  22. I think you\’re definitely on to something. Cooper seems so much more relaxed when he\’s getting a solid dose of exercise. I suspect that it’s less about how he looks – he knows he\’s adorable – and more about the energy expenditure + the positive experience of having fun out and about with me. Regardless, we both feel more confident when we get plenty of exercise!
    Maggie recently posted…If my dogs wrote Yelp reviewsMy Profile

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