Dog Fitness: Capability Leads to a More Active Dog

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Our “6 C’s Pyramid” for fitness provides a framework upon which a lifestyle fitness program can be created. Once you and your dog have mastered the 1st level (convenience, cross training, and common sense), your workouts start to take shape and you will become more consistent with an exercise program.  As you build a habit of consistent (if not daily) exercise, you and your dog can start to develop increased capability, which will in turn lead to increased activity and health.
6 C's Pyramid

Achieving Canine Fitness Capability

Exercising regularly and mixing in fun and new exercises and activities will, over the long run, increase your dog’s fitness capabilities. Like the old expression says, “practice makes perfect”. But until you start to practice something, you will never get perfect at it, let alone build a level of capability.


When was the last time you tried a new lift or tried a new fitness protocol (e.g. tried a front squat instead of leg presses, or tried something new like Cross Fit or Pilates)? If you are like most humans, you most likely shy away from new things because you don’t feel confident that you can perform the workout or exercise very well. This is common human behavior and reinforces a limited skill set. However, if you invest some time learning a new move, your capability increases as does your confidence levels. Next thing you know, you are fitter, faster, stronger, leaner.


Dogs are very much like humans in this regard. Although dogs don’t really care what others think about their attempts at new things, (unlike most people who are often self-conscious), they do, like humans, experience an increased level of confidence with things that they practice. We see this in virtually all of the new exercises and exercise routines we use with our Labradors. With repetition, our dogs gain confidence and their capability to perform quickly rises. This increased capability, in turn, leads to a higher level of performance and thus, a higher level of fitness.


As you and your pet devote time to your fitness drills, your level of capability will increase. That is true whether you are practicing a skill, like agility weaves which requires precise timing and speed adjustments, or just basic movements like running, where capability comes from improved cardiovascular thresholds.


Every improvement in fitness is by (my) definition, an improvement in capability.   And this can lead to a self-fulfilling cycle of improved fitness over time as you and your dog are able to push harder or try new progressions as you become more capable at the exercises.

Build your fitness pyramid by making your dog’s exercise sessions convenient, using common sense, and cross training to reduce injury risk. This will lead to a consistent exercise schedule and increase your dog’s capabilities. All of these will lead to the top level of the “6 C’s Pyramid, which is “Change”. We will write more about change in an upcoming post to cap off our 6 C’s fitness series.


In the meantime, get up, grab your dog, and start building capability and fitness.

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  1. It is definitely true that practice makes perfect.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Freighter’s Birthday WishMy Profile

  2. we only can build a small pyramid at the moment, because of Easy\\\’s ouchie and my still thick ankle. But even when we can\\\’t use all our paws we will stir the pot with exercise at home :o)

  3. For some reason, I decided to get back into running this week with Mom and Bailie. Today was my third run. Since I haven’t run for a while, they took shorter runs to accommodate me, but since I do lots of walking and also running with Bailie in the yard, I can still handle 3-4 miles pretty easily, and I must say it has been fun. When we are back home, I will most likely leave the running all up to Bailie and Mom again.
    Emma recently posted…One Final Fall FlingMy Profile

  4. Hi Y’all!

    I’m still practicin’!

    Y’all come on by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Storm Warning Continues…My Profile

  5. Great post- 6 C’s make sense. Now just have to implement plans. Wish we were in warmer climate. I hate walking in snow, wind and ice even more than Kilo. Susie

  6. I SO needed this post! Gotta get on it!
    Rama’s Mama recently posted…FitDog Friday–Exercise The MindMy Profile

  7. So true that dogs don’t care how they look or what they are doing as long as they are doing something. I will admit I have been slack about exercise besides our pheasant hunts which are getting to be further apart in times out.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…FitDog Friday~Saskatchewan Day 7 & 8My Profile

  8. Great post! I’ve been working on this with my girls. They were always athletic but we kind of fell behind a bit on our exercise routine when we lived in California. There weren’t very many pet friendly places to exercise where we lived and it was really rural. Now that we are back in Oregon, there’s places galore so it’s much easier.
    Lauren Miller recently posted…Windy Day! Running by the River! Fit Dog FridayMy Profile

  9. I love the idea of mixing it up. I sometimes watch the same people walk their dogs the same route at the same time every day. I love and admire their dedication but can’t help wondering how thrilled their dogs would be to have a change of scenery or type of workout. I know dogs like a routine, but they also love something new and exciting.
    Elaine recently posted…How to Teach a Dog Its NameMy Profile

  10. Trying new stuff may make you look foolish, but as Samuel Butler said, “The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.”

  11. Once again we’re facing changing seasons and routines. Instead of dreading the change in routines, we should use it as an opportunity to try something different!
    Jan K recently posted…Clicker Training – A Positive Experience (Part 3) – ShapingMy Profile

  12. Mr. N is almost always up for trying new things (unless they involve getting wet).

  13. I really like the pyramid idea, great framework. Consistency is always a challenge for me; between weather issues (too hot the main issue) and other responsibilities it’s easy to lapse. Sharing this.
    Cathy Armato recently posted…6 Ways To Prevent Your Dog’s Inappropriate ChewingMy Profile

  14. The 6 C pyramid is new to me, but it makes sense. Our version of cross-training is mixing up ball chasing, walks, off-leash running and nose work. My dogs are both capable runners and sniffers. Leo still needs more practice at bringing the ball back!
    Kari recently posted…Keeping my senior dog spryMy Profile

  15. We’re getting there!

  16. Ugh, you are so right! It is so hard for people to change up the routine and then stick with something new. I am very guilty of that! One thing I’ve recently been *trying* to add to my routine is to do a stair workout once a week. I don’t do it every single week, but I’ve gone three times in the last six weeks or so. I guess that’s better than nothing! And yes, it’s gotten way easier already.
    Lindsay recently posted…Quick tips to keep your dog calm when visitors arrive – Zuke’s treatsMy Profile

    • That’s what it’s all about, I hate the cliche, but just do it.
      mkob recently posted…Is Soy Bad for Dogs?My Profile

  17. Just like their human owners, dogs need exercise and to practice healthy eating habits. Taking walks or playing in the yard can wonderful ways for both the dogs and owners to get their fair share of exercise. I take my dog on a walk every day, and this is a great practice for us both. Thanks for sharing!

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