Core Training for Your Dog

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Fit people and their fit dogs generally have several exercise habits that are common with their fit brethren. One such habit is to consistently exercise the “core”.


Benefits of a Strong Core

There are many benefits to having a strong core. Whether it is a dog or a person, a strong core is worth the effort as it can:

Improve athletic performance. Whatever a dog’s sport, whether it is running, agility, flyball, or field work, a strong core will lead to improved performance. The main reason is because a strong core will be able to better align the body as it moves “in space” and thus allow the athlete to perform at a higher level. As strong core will also enable more efficient power transfer from the legs to the rest of the body, which can translate to greater speed, power, and agility.

jack works his core 2

Reduce injury risk. A strong core can better protect the back, both during athletic and exercise activities as well as in normal daily activities. A strong core will help to bear the brunt of the load forces that are placed on the body during virtually any activity.


Improve digestion and overall health. A strong core can better protect vital organs in the torso, including the stomach, pancreas, liver, and kidney. Furthermore, core work can have a massage effect on the organs, helping to keep them flushed with fresh blood and functioning as they are intended.


Make you look sexy. Yes, the elusive 6- or 8-pack requires a well-developed core. Although this does not really apply to dogs, it is certainly a nice benefit to humans who include regular core work in their exercise routines.

jack works his core

Simple core exercises for a Dog

There are many ways to incorporate core work into a dog’s training. Some of our favorites are included below. (We have written about these in the past and you can click on each exercise description below to link to our prior posts).


Balance training on an unstable surface. Anytime a dog is forced to balance, their body is forced to engage the core and other stabilizer muscles to keep from toppling over. Use the K9 Fit Bone or other unstable cushions to add an element of instability to really work the dog’s core.

Touch drill. One of our favorites, this is an easy drill to perform anywhere. Simply use your hand to gently perturb the dog’s sides and torso, doing a minimum of 10 sets for each side. Add an element of hind leg training by doing this drill while the dog has their front legs on an elevated surface (e.g. a box or a chair).


Labby Limbo. Use the low rail of a fence or a bar or pole supported by two chairs to create a “limbo” style setup. Have the dog approach and then go under the bar to the other side. Turn around and repeat. This exercise is a great way to work the dog’s entire body and is especially fun if you have Harry Belafonte music (Shake Senora) blasting in the background.

Maggie's not too sure about that balance board.

Maggie’s not too sure about that balance board.

Targeted and intelligent core training can and will improve athletic performance and reduce injury risk. You might develop a six or eight pack. Your dog will develop a more functional body. What are you waiting for?


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  1. Great post! We do a lot of core training! From wobble boards to inflatable balls, etc..
    Lauren Miller (ZoePhee) recently posted…The Rain is Back.My Profile

  2. Core training is the core to good fitness 🙂
    Emma recently posted…Dogs In MotionMy Profile

  3. Jack and Maggie, you pups are looking paw-somely fit out there!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Glorious, wonderful, beautiful snowMy Profile

  4. wow, that was interesting… I will do some Weim-limbo now… maybe that’s the way to find a girl :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog THIS MOMENT…My Profile

  5. Hi Y’all!

    Exercise, all kinds, is necessary for Humans and their pawed friends to have a healthy and long life.

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Flappin’ Fit Friday!My Profile

  6. Got to get that beach body ready!

  7. A strong core is key to health and strong bones go with that. I’ve used a core board to rehab a broken ankle and will definitely try to get Sam on board and see how he does. He (me) use a ‘core slim down.’ 🙂
    Monika recently posted…Fun FursdayMy Profile

  8. Barley loves her wobble board! We probably won’t be trying limbo–even though it sounds fun–because I can just imagine what our trainer would say when Barley started limboing under jumps in agility class 😉
    Beth recently posted…When Mother Nature SmilesMy Profile

  9. This is an inspiring post for me! LOL Will have to try some of the balancing boards with Kilo.

  10. Bentley wants to challenge Maggie and Jack to a limbo contest! LOL!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Mad About Russell MadnessMy Profile

  11. Looks like fun! I’ve been thinking of the K9 fit bone, maybe I will pick one up!
    Gosh..I wish I had a personal trainer telling me what to eat and making me exercise. 🙂
    DZ Dogs recently posted…How to Build Your Relationship With Your DogMy Profile

  12. Looks like Jack has a six-pack to me! The Lady is all about core training for her, its all they do after her back surgery, she is very familiar with that rocker! I do not like unstable surfaces at all, its pretty much why I’ll never be an agility star! Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…Dolly’s Return to Caldwell Woods – Walk No. 4My Profile

  13. Miley could definitely benefit from some core exercises! Looks like fun!
    Golden Daily Scoop recently posted…The Benefits of Crate Training #CrateHappyPetsMy Profile

  14. Core training also comes in handy for photo taking! I’m always putting Mr. N in weird locations where he has to balance.

  15. Do you really blast the music? The idea is making me want to get some music on and make my dogs dance!
    Jodi recently posted…Follow-Up Friday – March 13, 2015My Profile

  16. Now that the ice and snow are gone we are going to have to try some of those.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Thunder Keeping Fit At 9My Profile

  17. We like to practice our pups’ balancing skills whenever we encounter fallen trees on our walks. I really DO want to get one of those K9 FitBones to add some exercise on truly wobbly surfaces. I’ve build our very own limbo course using stacks of books and golf clubs across them, asking the pups to go both under and over them. Fantastic boredom & energy buster on inclement weather days!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Staying Fit On An Urban Doggie Adventure!My Profile

  18. Great reasons for core training! In our version of the Labby Limbo — maybe we should call it the Havvy Limbo! — I have Rocco crawl under my slightly raised legs as I’m sitting on the floor. That’s also our first step toward training the “crawl” trick… a crowd pleaser and great for core strength training too!
    Diane recently posted…FitDog Puppy Playtime!My Profile

  19. Did you say “makes you look sexy?” BOL Labby Limbo sounds like fun, but Harley said he’d rather hear Bruno Mars!
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…A NEW PUPPYMy Profile

  20. Very interesting ideas. Going under a fence is another “everyday” core activity (we have lots of fences leftover in the National Forest from back when it was grazed). The fitbone looks interesting…
    KB recently posted…Being Shyla’s ProtectorMy Profile

  21. Way to go guys what av rear workout
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Nothing But Norman #87My Profile

  22. Who knew there were so many core-strengthening exercises for dogs? Mr. K is going to get to work now! Much love, The Scottie Mom.
    The Scottie Mom recently posted…A Very Scottie WeddingMy Profile

  23. This is something we need to work on. Though I read the post and realized I’ve already been doing a little of the “touch drill” with Luke. He likes to come over and push on me when he wants attention, and sometimes I just give him a little push back! I’ll just have to conscious of trying to do it on other parts of his body too. So easy! But I need to get out the Fit bone more often to work with all of them.
    Jan K recently posted…Keep Your Eye On the BallMy Profile

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