Cross Training with your Dog for All Around Fitness

Share Button

Today we move on to the letter “C” in the A to Z Challenge. “C” is for Cross-training.

Cross Training with your Dog

In “Cross Training Benefits for You and Your Dog”, we discussed the many benefits of cross training, benefits available to both you and your dog.  Today we will provide some suggestions on specific cross training activities for your dog to help them stay fit.

Before we get to the list of exercises, it is important to point out a few things:

  • Check with your vet before making any marked changes in your dog’s exercise routines.
  • Consider your dog’s age and injury history before building an exercise program.  Older dogs and dogs with ACL injuries might want to steer clear from agility drills and intense sprints, for example.
  • Exercises that qualify as cross training will depend on what your dog’s normal sport or activity is.  For example, if your dog is a swimmer, than swimming is not cross training.


Cross Training Exercises for your DogThe portrait of swimming dog

Here is a list of some of my favorite cross training exercises to do with your dog.  Remember, not all will apply in your situation, but pick the ones that make the most sense given your dog’s regular routine, their age, and overall health.


Swimming.  One of the best low impact exercises available.  A great way to keep your dog fit while they nurse an injury too. Walking or running in water is also a great drill that can build strength with low impact on the body joints.


Sprints. Sprinting is one of the best ways to burn calories and build strength and short-burst endurance. If your dog normally does low intensity exercises, mix in some short (50 meter) sprints.  And don’t jog these, run full steam and your dog will follow suit.  8-10 reps over 5-10 minutes is all you need.


Core and Balance Work.  This is a fairly broad and low intensity category that can encompass many different moves.  SlimDoggy Jack likes to use the DogTread K9FitBone cushion to create challenging core and balance drills.  Make sure to try drills where the front legs, back legs, and all four legs are on the unstable surface.  If you don’t have access to a K9FitBone or a regular balance cushion, do the ‘touch drill” either on level ground or by placing your dog’s front legs on a step and then alternating with their back legs on a step.


Hind Leg Drills.  Dog’s tend to overload their front limbs and as a result, their hind legs become proportionately weaker over time.  This is especially apparent with senior dogs.  Cross train by mixing in some hill work or by doing the Labby Limbo to ensure that their hind legs stay strong.


Strength Training.  Like humans, a dog’s body will respond to progressive overload and build strength and muscle over time.  Strength training provides many benefits and is a great way to cross train for dogs that typically walk or swim.  Use the K9Fit Vest to turn virtually any exercise into a strength exercise.


Agility, Jumping, Flyball, and other Sporting Activities.  If your dog is in good health and injury free, try one or more of these fun canine sports.  These intense activities require a solid fitness base and some training.  But dogs generally love these activities and they make for a skills based and intense cross training protocol that can increase your dog’s athleticism.


Don’t forget to include proper warm up and cool downs, especially when cross training with a high intensity activity.  Post workout stretches are also recommended.



We’re joining the A to Z Challenge and keeping our own Blog Hop of our A to Z posts. Feel free to join the Hop with your A to Z Challenge post!


Share Button


  1. Swimming is our all time favorite activity. Due to our location we’re not able to do it often, when summer shows up, it’s like cross training to us! The Boys are getting older and I am extremely interested in various forms of exercise because I want to do the absolute best for them. I must keep them healthy. They’ve just got to live forever 🙂 Thanks Slim –
    Cathy recently posted…BLOGGING FROM A TO Z APRIL CHALLENGE | CHAPEAUMy Profile

  2. YAY! Mort does every single thing in the list (and loooooves all of it!) Just today on our walk I found a concrete bench, and decided to teach him to balance on the 1 inch wide and sloped back of the bench. Of course he was game to try. It was really cool for working on both balance and rear leg placement, and *thinking* (exhausting all on its own!). He had to get all four paws in a straight line: we started with him putting his front and rear left legs in my hands while the other two were on the bench. Then I maneuvered them onto the bench so his paws were all completely in line with each other on the 1 inch ledge. He balanced on his own for a few seconds by the end – see if he can do everything on his own next time!

    Urban agility and crosstraining FTW!
    Jen recently posted…Stylish Canine’s The A to Z of Things Dogs Love: Chasing Cats! #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  3. Didn’t know dogs could do all of this! Excellent post, and I’m glad you’ve got your own hop going– love the sense of community!

    Damyanti Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2014, Latest Post

    Twitter: @damyantig
    Damyanti recently posted…#atozchallenge : B is for Being brave #fiction #writing #quotesMy Profile

  4. Excellent tips. Swimming is one of our favorites and hopefully we our ponds will open so we can get at it!
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–Meeting Old And New PalsMy Profile

  5. Walking is our main thing, but we add in other stuff to stay well rounded like our K9 FitBone, running, or swimming if the ice ever melts! We are also getting more into the mental workouts (through obedience work or nose work) which wear us out and make us feel good too. Great post!
    Emma recently posted…No Criminals In The Park With Stolen Goods Under My Watch | GBGV | Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  6. Great info about cross training. I love learning about this stuff! BTW I wanted to let you know, your feature will be going up on Tuesdays post. I’ve had fun writing this post, can’t wait for you to see it!
    Have a great day!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…C is for ‘Clowie’ on Thoughtless Thursday!My Profile

  7. Wonderful recommendations! I am going to have to check out that fit vest 🙂
    Erin recently posted…C is for Consistent Cues 🙂My Profile

  8. As long as you’re moving, you’re doing something right. But now I’m interested to see what happens when you guys get to letters like Q, X and Z!

  9. I like how this is not just limited to medium/Large size dogs. Ballou is 3 lbs. but does a lot of stairs work. To switch it up, when we go for walks, I will aim to go up hills and to add some sprints.

  10. Great ideas! We love our FitPaws disc cushion and donut for cross training, but I really want one of those bones too! It’s on our list!
    Diane and Rocco
    Diane recently posted…Help Kids Learn Responsible Pet Ownership with Barbie Potty Training Taffy & GiveawayMy Profile

  11. Leo is still getting used to his jogging routine. I wish I could get the shepherds to swim. They’re splashers, although we do have a friend with a shepherd who swims. Maybe I should have him teach our pups.
    Kari recently posted…Choke Collars, Corrections, Classical Conditioning, and ClickersMy Profile

    • Just walking in water is good exercise too. My Labs aren’t big fans of swimming either – not much exposure in their younger days I think…but they like to splash around.
      mkob recently posted…Cross Training with your Dog for All Around FitnessMy Profile

  12. This is really informative. I need to add the balance but Cooper hates water, not sure that will be part of the equation. Happy Letter C
    Meghan aka FireBonnet recently posted…C: Buffy’s Haiku Thursday #22: Cave LionMy Profile

  13. Luna is definitely a sprinter, so we will focus on swimming (hopefully soon!) and balance.
    Beagles and Bargains recently posted…C is for Clear Conscience Pet #atozchallenge + GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  14. I do a lot of balance and strengthening exercises with Rocco. I just got him one of the small cushions to try it out and he really took to it, so I’ll be ordering a large one where he can get all four paws on it. I’m still trying to get him used to stretches LOL People think he gets massages and bodywork on a daily basis, since that’s what I do, but he actually isn’t very fond of having his hair “messed with” 😉
    A Husky Life recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Sun RaysMy Profile

    • That’s great that you are doing those types of exercises already – it will help be stronger, more fit and live longer…all good.
      mkob recently posted…FitDog Friday Anniversary AwardsMy Profile

  15. I’ve been tying to tell my humans that I need a pool. 😉 Until that happens, I love the Labby Limbo (although I am a bit disappointed that it happens without the beer) and the hill work. Thanks for the great tips!
    Miss Harper Lee recently posted…Harper Lee from A to Z: C is for CHARIOTMy Profile

  16. Great suggestions! I usually try to do sprints with Sadie as part of her walk every day. Since her little legs are so short, she usually tires out after two or three sprints.
    Mary from YourDesignerDog recently posted…C is for Catch – #atozchallengeMy Profile

  17. Excellent information, I can’t wait to try some of it with Charlie! My two “water dogs”, Hobie, and his predecessor, Timba, always walked in the lake and did not swim. Walking in the water is great activity for senior dogs with arthritis, as long as it’s shallow enough (our lake is very shallow near the beach area where we go). Wish Charlie & Cooper were “water dogs”, but alas, they and all of their litter mates are a little bit afraid of the water!! Typical hounds. Thanks for a great post.
    Kathy recently posted…A to Z Challenge, Day 3: C is for Canine Cognitive Dysfunction #atozchallengeMy Profile

  18. Great Cross training tips. It is nice to mix it all up so every part of the body gets work and it keeps it exciting for the dog to.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…FitDog Friday~Pheasants For MarksMy Profile

Comments are now closed on this post.