Endurance Training for Dogs

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Endurance training, also commonly referred to as aerobic training, is an important aspect of canine fitness. Whether they know it or not, most dog parents provide their dog with some form of regular endurance training, the most common form being the regular walk. Like there is with strength training, there is a correct way to train a dog to improve their endurance and progressions can be made to accelerate their bodies’ adaptation to the workouts.


Benefits of Canine Endurance Training

Endurance training is generally meant to target a dog’s aerobic system rather than their anaerobic system. Depending on the intensity, endurance training can impact both the cardiovascular as well as the muscular and skeletal systems. Dogs are natural endurance athletes. Their bodies were meant to be able to withstand long duration activities and to cover great distances when needed.


Endurance Training

Like it does with humans, consistent endurance training can impact a dog’s body in several ways including:

  • Decreases the resting heart rate of the dog.
  • Increasing the hearts ability to pump blood.
  • Increases the size (weight) of the heart as the muscle grows stronger.
  • Changes the muscles in the dog’s body so that they are better able to draw on the slow twitch fibers needed for longer bouts of exercise.
  • Increases the lactate threshold of the dog, allowing the dog to tolerate more intense and longer duration exercise.
  • Increases the maximal oxygen consumption (the VO2 max) so that the dog can more easily sustain a steady state of exercise duress.


With all of these great benefits, it is easy to see why endurance exercise is so important for a dog.


How Much Endurance Training is Needed for a Dog?

Most pet parents are not aware of the minimum amount of endurance exercise needed to stimulate a dog’s aerobic system. The answer to this question depends on a lot of factors, but again, like with humans, the intensity level of the exercise is inversely related to the time needed to achieve an adaptation response. In other words, the more intense the exercise, the less time is needed to get a benefit.


As a rule of thumb, a dog would need to trot (not sprint) for around 20 minutes continuously to achieve an aerobic benefit. For those who only walk their dogs, figure on 2 to 3 times the time to achieve any aerobic improvements. Swimming is generally more challenging for a dog and thus, they will use more energy. A good rule of thumb is a continuous swim of around 10 minutes to achieve aerobic improvements.


Next week, I will provide some endurance exercise progressions that will enable a dog to markedly improve their endurance capability as well as make endurance training more fun and challenging for both the dog and the human.

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  1. Brilliant advice and information, guys.
    Earl Lover recently posted…Why Are Our Dogs’ Paws So Important?My Profile

  2. Interesting. During hunt test training season, we work on building endurance which is also beneficial for hunting season.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Bouncing KongMy Profile

  3. Since Katie used to train for marathons with Mom, she always considered it endurance training, but on the flip side, when Katie ran away, which she loved to do, she could run and run forever without tiring! Fit dogs are great, but that was the downside with Katie!
    Emma recently posted…Tracking Is Growing On MeMy Profile

  4. Keeping up with Penny is endurance training for humans. Not sure I want to program her to have any more!

  5. Pierre has limitless energy to run, but Bentley is more of a trotter/walker. We have him wearing a Whistle activity monitor on his collar. It is like a FitBit for dogs. I am proud to say that he has hit his goal for 20 days in a row. We even doubled his time yesterday!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…HodgePodge FridayMy Profile

  6. I had no idea about the minumum time. All I know is the dogs ran off this am and I had to run across the pasture in my robe in the freezing cold to go get them. My lungs still hurt. I guess I should try the endurance training.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…DIY Paw Print OrnamentMy Profile

  7. Kilo loves short sprints and bursts of energy. Since his small squishy face I make sure not to over exert him. Great tips, I will have to try.

  8. We will go for long runs once in a while. Like 8 or 10 miles to keep up our endurance!!
    Julie recently posted…Cocoa and the DuckMy Profile

  9. Buzz is definitely the most athletic being in our pack 😉 He gets a ton of practice with his daily fetch sessions. When Missy’s in a pool, her froggy-endurance genes kick in. This girl can swim!!!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…All dogs profit from exercising, regardless of size and breed!My Profile

  10. Interesting. I’m looking forward to your exercise suggestions. I’m not sure how much of what we do would be considered endurance, but then again even on a brisk walk, Rocco is trotting… his short legs and all 🙂
    Diane recently posted…Torus: The Water Bowl for Dogs On The Go + GiveawayMy Profile

  11. Mr. N invents his own cardio lol. He usually plays with a particular toy several times a week and it’s intense enough that he’s panting afterwards (he very rarely pants otherwise).

  12. Jax is great for encouraging Harley into cardio exercise every day – he is relentless and will tease Harley until he gives in and then it’s on and popping.

    • That’s one thing that’s great about having two dogs.
      mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy SantaMy Profile

  13. Great info as always. I am committing (or rather, re-committing) to the Pooch to 5k training with Gretel after the new year. This information will be handy when I talk about consistently improving your pet’s fitness for running and hiking.
    Jessica recently posted…9 Tips for Snowshoeing with Your Small DogMy Profile

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