Canine Fitness Equipment: Weights

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To the surprise of many, dogs can lift weights as part of a well-rounded fitness program.  Of course, I don’t mean barbells and dumbbells, pullup bars or kettlebells.  Sorry, dogs just don’t have that opposable thumb that is so key for grabbing and holding heavy objects.  However, there are a few options for those who want to add weights into their dog’s exercise mix.


Jack doing his kettlebell routine

Jack doing his kettlebell routine


When it comes to canine weight training, two types of equipment are available, the weighted vest and the ankle/leg weight.


Canine Weighted Vest

The canine weighted vest is comparable to the human weighted vest and can be used in many of the same ways.  The idea is to place an additional load (weight), centered safely on the torso, to add resistance to any exercise, and this build strength and endurance.  I use a weighted vest when running, stair and hill climbing, or when doing body weight moves like planks or pullups.  Dogs can use their weighted vests to enhance the strength building benefit of basic movements like walking, running, balance and core work.  The vest can turn any move into a strength move, so the options are virtually unlimited. The key is to not overload the dog such that their form or normal gait patterns break down.  My dog Jack uses the K9FitVest, which provides gentle compression and the right load to keep all of the movements safe.


jack on balance1000

Canine Ankle Weights

Another type of weight that is available for dogs is the ankle weight.  Like with the human ankle weight, the canine ankle weight is strapped around the dog’s ankle to add resistance.  Ankle weights are often used in canine rehabilitation to force the dog to use the opposite limb.  In other words, the weaker limb is unencumbered and the stronger or uninjured limb has the weight attached.  This will force the dog to prioritize their weaker limb, because it is ‘easier’ for them to use it then the one with the weight.


Of course, ankle weights can be used on all limbs to build overall strength, just like we humans use ankle weights.


Dog ankle weights are very light, ranging from 1 or 2 ounces and no higher than a pound.  Using weights that are too heavy for the dog will result in broken form and irregular gait, which is a recipe for injury.


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  1. such a vest is a good idea, is it possible to wear it with a harness or is it better with a collar?
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  2. We’ve used a vest on hikes around our neighborhood; it was great because the pup could carry a few items needed while out and it satisfied his need to have a job. Win-win.

  3. Sometimes we use our backpacks and put some of our stuff in the pockets creating extra weight for us to carry while walking which is along the same lines I would guess.
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  4. We have a vest we won from you guys and it is a cool piece of fitness equipment. As for weights I just have gambler pick up a block of scratch grains for the chickens that has a handle but best not do that very often as if he drops it on his toes he will be a hurting fellow.

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