Exercising Outdoors with Dogs: Hind Legs

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I recently wrote about the benefits of exercising outdoors with your dog. Fortunately, we were recently able to enjoy those many benefits in the mountain forests of Big Bear Lake, CA. We used the forest trails and landscape as the ‘gymnasium’ to make sure that SlimDoggy Jack got some good workouts in while on vacation.   Our focus was on the hind legs which need extra attention as Jack, like many senior dogs, tends to lose strength in his hind legs as he ages.
on the trail2

Using the Outdoors to work a Dog’s Hind Legs

There were two obvious ways we could utilize the outdoor mountain space to work Jack’s hind legs. First, we used the hills and elevation changes in the terrain. Running or walking up hill will work a dog’s hind legs more than their front legs, because their weight transfers backward to their rear as they move up an incline. There were lots of rolling hills and sometimes steep terrains that we experienced during our runs and hikes. Although the hills make it harder, the benefits are worth the extra efforts. I think Jack would even agree. Hills anywhere are an effective exercise for your dog, but attacking them out in the woods provides the added benefit of softer turf (dirt instead of cement), which makes the exercise truly low impact.
hilly terrain

The second way we used the landscape to target Jack’s hind legs was to find objects that could be used as platforms. We saw many logs and rocks, and were able to get Jack to bring his front legs up on these objects, thus loading up his hind legs. Like we do in our home, once Jack is in this position, we gently push on his core, forcing him to engage his core and legs to stay upright and steady. This is a really simple exercise drill that can be used to strengthen a dog’s hind legs. The fact that we could do so in a beautiful forest was an added benefit.

outdoor exercise

Although I couldn’t ask Jack how he felt, I noticed that I felt more energized during my runs in the forest. The novelty of new terrain, the abundance of fresh oxygen (from all of the vegetation), and the feeling of being close to nature all combined to keep me energized and strong during my workouts. I would bet that Jack had the same experience as well.
happy hikers

Take advantage of the nicer weather when you can and try some forest or park runs or other forms of exercise with your dogs. It’s a great way to mix things up and take advantage of the “gym” that Mother Nature has provided us all.


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  1. Hi Y’all!

    It’s always cooler in the mountains. Forested areas usually offer lots of shade. Great places for exercise.

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Early Morning FunMy Profile

  2. I like it to visit forests… and Easy too… and we have a giant bag with pine cones collected by Easy, they are great for the chimney in winter :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog THIS MOMENT…My Profile

  3. Mother Nature’s “Gym” truly is the best! It’s so much fun incorporating natural obstacles in your pup’s workout routine!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…FitDog Friday: Working on K9 Core StrengthMy Profile

    • IT’s fun to try and think of ways to use nature for obstacles. We found a huge pine tree that had fallen over and wanted to use it, but it was too big even for Jack.
      mkob recently posted…Exercising Outdoors with Dogs: Hind LegsMy Profile

  4. Katie is a work in progress at all times. We fix one thing and another seems to go. Right now she is doing fairly well, but her back leg strength is really not good. Most exercises she can’t do anymore and she has real trouble making it up a hill. But maybe she should try using the fitbone again.
    Emma recently posted…Why Tracking In The Summer Is DifficultMy Profile

    • Yeah, I would give the fitbone a try. Jack doesn’t always like to do his exercises – he skips some days, but we still try as that back leg strength is so important.
      mkob recently posted…Exercising Outdoors with Dogs: Hind LegsMy Profile

  5. We have begun walking twice a day for my health and the dogs are benefitting from it too. *You might both enjoy our device on today’s post.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Do You Know How to Whistle?My Profile

  6. Looks like an awesome place! We love to hike in North Georgia where we get lots of varied terrain — Rocco scrambles up and down the hills and over fallen branches/trees — and it’s cooler, too!
    Diane recently posted…PetsRFit2: Getting Fit with Fido!My Profile

  7. This is perfect for Sydney. J has made more changes to our property, creating more hills. We’re adding 2 ponds to the property, but until that’s finished, I’m using the new landscape to exercise and it’s great for Sydney to work on her hind legs.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…5 Phrases to Ban from Your Vocabulary #WalkDogsLoseWeightMy Profile

  8. Agreed – runs and romps out on the trails are always more fun than those on the sidewalk.

  9. I’m noticing all the new places we’ve been exploring has different inclines and they have been great for Harley. I love watching him sweat! LOL
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…PUPBOX – NOT YOUR ORDINARY SUBSCRIPTION BOXMy Profile

  10. Looks like a park here in Ontario! Beautiful place for a hike.

  11. Way to go Jack, what a great place to exercise. Very Beautiful.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Weeds Can Be Beautiful {This Moment} While Staying Fit~FitDog FridayMy Profile

  12. It looks like a great place to get fit and have fun!

    Earl Lover recently posted…Signs Of An Overexercised Dog In The HeatMy Profile

  13. That is an incredibly beautiful gymnasium you found. You have inspired us to make plans to find a forest for exercising this weekend.
    jan recently posted…Puppies that were not puppiesMy Profile

  14. Mother Nature’s Gym is our favorite gym to visit, too! Looks like Jack had a great time on your adventure and got a good work, too.
    Beth recently posted…Exploring Cuyahoga Valley National ParkMy Profile

  15. That looks like a fabulous place to live and enjoy nature. We have just invested in a small caravan so we can park up near some great walking and explore.
    Fiona recently posted…Living with a shouty bitch!My Profile

  16. We live half way up a hill. Anyway we walk we are going uphill and yet I feel like Sampson’s back end is not getting any stronger. In fact, he trembles so much in his back legs I’ve started calling him shaky dog.

    Sometimes when we come in the house he will put his front legs on the stairs while leaving his back legs on the floor. If I push back on his chest, will that help his back legs?
    Jodi recently posted…Follow-Up Friday – July 10, 2015My Profile

    • Actually – push him gently from side to side. He will have to engage his core to keep himself stable and that will also fire his back legs to help his stability.
      mkob recently posted…Exercising Outdoors with Dogs: Hind LegsMy Profile

    • Actually – push him gently from side to side. He will have to engage his core to keep himself stable and that will also fire his back legs to help his stability.
      mkob recently posted…Exercising Outdoors with Dogs: Hind LegsMy Profile

    • Actually – push him gently from side to side. He will have to engage his core to keep himself stable and that will also fire his back legs to help his stability.
      mkob recently posted…Exercising Outdoors with Dogs: Hind LegsMy Profile

  17. I remember Kobi’s back legs were his biggest issue as he got older. We do have a pretty steep hill by our house so I need to remember to take the girls that way more often when we walk so the same thing doesn’t happen with them. Our yard isn’t flat either though, so I hope that even the slight hill they run up and down when playing ball is a help too.
    Jan K recently posted…Sam’s Happy Health Update & Cat Crawl GiveawayMy Profile

  18. Those are great tips, loved seeing your beautiful walk too. Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…Kickstarter Opportunity — Details PAL™: Activity Tracker for Your DogMy Profile

  19. What a great way to get out and exercise while spending time with the dogs!
    De Hufford recently posted…Fit Dog Friday in the Country, Aussie Style.My Profile

  20. It’s been too hot here to go hiking much but it’s cooling down so I’m looking forward to more treks.

  21. So glad you had a great time in Big Bear! I just love all our great trails up here! Thanks for hosting this great blog hop once again!
    Amber recently posted…The Worst PatientMy Profile

  22. That looks like a wonderful place to exercise. I like the idea of using hills and rocks to work on hind end muscles.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Wagon Wheel Or “Oh No Not Drill Work”My Profile

  23. We’re still waiting for “nicer” weather. Either there are too many bugs or it’s too hot or both. We still do go outside, though. But it’s not half as much fun as it could be.
    Jana Rade recently posted…“Look at That” (LAT) Game and Barking at TrafficMy Profile

  24. We ‘lub’ Big Bear – and we visit there often! You looked like you all had such a great time – thanks for sharing your experience, I’m motivated to get my momma and dadz out der to hike and romp about!

  25. Outdoor exercise is the best kind!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Are Huskies Happier In Packs?My Profile

  26. What a gorgeous place for a run and a workout! Those are the same two things I’ve done with my older dogs! Great ideas, especially before there’s any neural component to the weakness.
    KB recently posted…Black Dog SundayMy Profile

  27. I’m looking forward to taking Sam out for a few hikes soon. Your post has given me more reason to do it. Besides, I think all the bunnie scent trails will send Sam’s nose into simultaneous Nirvana and orbit. 😉
    Monika recently posted…Why oh why…A Dog’s OpinionMy Profile

  28. I bet there were lots of interesting smells to give those noses a good workout as well.
    Clowie recently posted…Public ExaminationMy Profile

  29. Now that’s a gym I want to go to!
    Rama’s Mama recently posted…Sandy, Watery MischiefMy Profile

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