Fit Dog Friday: Resistance Training

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Jack & Steve running sprints. Maggie tries to catch up.

Jack & Steve running sprints. Maggie tries to catch up.

fitDogFriday_150x126Resistance Training To Increase Exercise Intensity

As you probably know, we at SlimDoggy believe that being fit is super important.  A combination of proper exercise and feeding can markedly improve the quality of life and the life span of your dog (and you too!).

For today’s FitDog Friday post, we will talk about an easy way to increase the intensity level of your dog’s exercise without having to run faster or longer to do so.  How is this possible?  By adding resistance training to your dog’s exercise routines.

Human Use

As an athlete, I have used a weighted vest for many years to increase the intensity level of my

exercise drills. I use a 15 lb. vest, which is around 9% of my body weight and  will commonly use the vest for exercises such as:

  • Pushups, pullups, and any other body weight movements.
  • Sprint drills- short fast sprints of 200 meters or less.
  • Stair/Incline drills- running or jumping up bleachers or hills.

In all of these cases, the vest makes the drill more difficult and besides building muscle and extra stamina,  the extra intensity can help with EPOC:  Excess, Post exercise, Oxygen Consumption (aka, burning  extra calories after the workout is completed).

As often is the case, what works for humans can work for dogs!

Canine Use

SlimDoggy Jack, the rescued Labrador that was the inspiration behind our Company is also a fan of resistance training.  When we first adopted Jack, he wasn’t very well behaved and he was 20 lbs overweight.  We put him on a rigorous exercise routine (with our vet’s approval of course) to help with both his weight and behavior.


Jack and Steve running the stairs

We often placed a back pack on Jack (that rhymes), filled with water bottles for extra weight, so his walks were harder and he would burn more energy and calories and also build some muscle to replace his fat.  The pack worked well for walks but was not usable for runs or any other fast paced exercise drills because the weight was not evenly distributed and the pack would often shift around when he moved quickly.

A Better Way

We spoke with the folks at DogTread in the past and were excited to learn that they had a new product called the K9FitVest.  Needless to say we wanted to give it a try.  As you can see in the pictures, Jack enjoyed our workout with the vest.  We used it on several different drills including stairs, sprints, and change of direction drills.  Jack loves it and he is completely exhausted when we were done, even though our workouts last only 10-12 minutes!  Talk about efficiency- using a vest can be a great tool for those pressed for time.

There are several studies that show the calorie expenditure, muscle building, and weight loss benefits of using a weighted vest while exercising.  These are referenced below along with some other interesting articles on using a vest.   Some of the advantages to using a weighted vest include:

  • Higher calorie burn for the same exercise.  One study estimates that you will burn 7 % more calories with a vest than without it.  Note- this value is an average.  The more intense the exercise and the heavier the vest, the greater will be the increased calorie expenditures. (See reference 1 and 5 below)
  • Faster weight loss.  In this study, dogs that walked with a vest lost 4 times the body weight as did the dogs that walked without the vest (4% weight reduction vs. 1 % weight reduction over an 8 week period).  The vests in this study ranged from 7-16 ounces depending on the dog size. (See reference 2 below)
  • Building/Maintaining Muscle.  More muscle on your dog means that their joints and skeletal system will be well protected (same is true for humans).  This can be very important for athletic dogs (e.g. agility dogs) that place a lot of stress on their joints and tendons.  It can also be important for older dogs to maintain muscle mass as they age as a way to deal with old age issues like arthritis.

Have any of you tried a weighted vest or pack?  Let us know how it went and if you noticed a difference in your dog’s exertion levels.

Jack & Steve running drills


1. “The effect of weighted vest walking on metabolic responses and ground reaction forces.”

2. “A Randomized Trial Comparing the Weight Loss of Canines That Walked With and Without the TrimDog Exercise Belt”

3. “Acute physiological response to treadmill walking with torso mounted weight in young women.”



Note: We were not compensated to write about any of the products in this  article.

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  1. This is great! I had no idea weighted vests for dogs existed but I have loved them for myself. This would also be a great way to train for backpacking without a floppy pack!

    • You have used a weighted vest yourself? Great job! They are awesome and I think a great tool for dogs as well.

  2. Woof! Woof! Very interesting. I never worn a weighted vest but I wore a doggy hiking back pack when we hike in HI. It was uncomfortable and I stopped frequently that mom decided to take it out. Will check it out. Happy FitDog Friday. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar
    SUGAR: Golden Woofs recently posted…{This Moment} See Beautiful: Warm Sun On My FaceMy Profile

    • Yes, that can be a problem with the pack. They shift and the weight is not properly distributed. The vest is snug so that is not a problem.

      As we know, Sugar needs to gain weight. Tell her adding a few lbs on a vest doesn’t count!

  3. […] very happy to be linking up with hosts Slim Doggy and Peggy’s Pet Place for the FitDog Friday blog […]

  4. Some of us humans are unfortunate enough to carry our own extra weight. But I believe that it can improve fitness.

    When my husband and I were running together every day, he always got bummed out by the fact that I had a much lower resting heart rate. I think it’s a fortunate side effect of having a caboose the size of a tank. How could you not work your heart more carrying a wide load up the hills of Ithaca? 🙂
    Pamela recently posted…Go Off-Road When Walking Your DogMy Profile

    • BOL! Pamela, you always make us laugh.

  5. […] Even though we are in the throws of Sprinter, (stupid weather anyway) we have been using the Leash Mate for a couple of weeks now, and mom loves it. She can carry all kinds of things in it.    There is a separate little place for pooh bags, which is really nice.     And the main pocket is big enough to carry most anything. Mom even put her small camera in it the other day when we went walking. It’s good for keys, phone, and especially dog treats.   Look at all that room.   The Leash Mate attaches easily to the leash with velcro straps. Then you just use the handle, and the leash together to carry it, and still keep a hold of the leash. We know how hard it can be to juggle several things when walking, and this has made everything so much easier. ” I know there are treats in here, and they are mine.” The bag measures 11″ x 7″ x 2″ deep. It’s very easy to carry. Mom thought at first it would seem big, but it really isn’t. Would you like to win a Leash Mate of your own, and make walking that much easier? Then just follow the instructions on the rafflecopter to enter to win. The contest will end Thursday the 18th at midnight. US residents only. Good luck to everyone! And make sure you join the FitDog Friday bloghop.  […]

  6. Wow, that would be quite the workout. That would be awesome for big dogs.
    Roxy the traveling dog recently posted…Leash Mate from Kyjen – #GiveawayMy Profile

    • I think they come in smaller sizes – maybe one just for you Roxy 😉

  7. Interesting idea and interesting product but I’d be concerned with the heat…I can’t tell for sure but it looks like a neoprene product which would be too hot for a Florida dog to use during outdoor exercise
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…Park Day Hiking Tip–Water, Water, Water on FitDog FridayMy Profile

    • Hmm, good point – I’m not sure of the fabric – it is stretchy, might be neoprine, but I’ll check out their website and see what it says.

    • Check out the Comment from Dog Tread. It’s breathable fabric and comes with built in coolants. So cool…literally!

  8. Over the winter our walks were a little shorter and less frequent so we used a backpack for Leroy to help burn more calories on his walks and help build some muscle.

    Love the idea of the vest! I’m going to look into that and see if it comes in Newfie size!
    Jen recently posted…That Awkward Moment At Costco When….My Profile

    • Jack is wearing the XL. It’s based on the measurement of their chest, and I think he was 33″…they might have XXL.

  9. Great suggestion to look forward to as I increase my condition. I’ve learned that as I become more fit, I have to keep stepping it up, making it more difficult, moving faster, etc. This would be a good idea to help. I’m not sure how Kelly would take to wearing one, but she might enjoy it.
    Peggy Frezon recently posted…FitDog Friday- Tips for Hiking with your DogMy Profile

    • She might – it’s a spiffy looking jacket! And the weights come out really easily, so you can start with no weight and slowly add.

  10. Great idea. I’m fit, but I have so much excess energy to burn. Mom says, ” A tired terrier is a GOOD terrier!”

    • Mom is right! Exercise is the great equalizer…or maybe tranquilizer.

  11. SlimDoggy we appreciate the wag! To answer a question above from GizmoGeoDog >> The K9FITvest is made of 4-way breathable fabric and it can be purchased with our cold therapy packs that can either be used during the workout or after the workout. Although in any hot climate situation we recommend limiting outdoor exercise as it is hard on all dogs. Their cooling system is not optimal and they overheat fast.Heat in general taxes the canine system and we never recommend exercising outside in the heat – opt for cooler times of the day or an indoor obstacle course! Happy Healthy Regards!
    DogTread K9FITvest recently posted…Canine Behavior: Train Your Dog to Walk the Right Way to Control Dominance & Aggression IssuesMy Profile

    • Excellent – I’ll be sure and share this with Gizmo.

  12. What a great idea. I didn’t know they made weighted vests for dogs. I’m off to check it out. Toby has a big backpacking trip at the end of May to train for. The max daily hike will be 13 miles. This would be a great way to help him be ready for the hills. Thanks for the suggestion.
    PS. I’m posting to “See Beautiful Friday” this week, but will be back to Fitdog Friday next week 🙂

    • Go Toby – 13 miles a day – wow. It will be so fun, we will want to hear all about it!

  13. We love the concept of the weighted vest! Zeus will be excited to be trying one out! And Peggy, you are so right, dogs, just like humans, become accustomed to exercises and level of activity. Stepping it up a notch via a weighted vest or increased level of intensity is good for both you and your pooch!

  14. […] This post is part of FitDog Friday! […]

  15. That looks like so much fun, and great exercise too! 🙂
    kirbysdawgblog recently posted…Anicent beginnings,and the winner is….Ooops is it friday?!My Profile

    • You should try it. They have small sizes 🙂

  16. Bunny and Morgan both wear backpacks when we go hiking. We don’t overload them, and we’ll be starting Bunny out pretty light since she doesn’t carry her pack on winter hikes because it doesn’t fit over her coat. It’s hard to tell on Morgan because she’s got a lot more fur, but when we get done hiking, Bunny looks even more muscular than she usually does. It does help Mo to get more of a workout. Now that Küster is a big boy and not growing so much anymore, he’ll probably start carrying a pack on his hikes, too, if we can find one that fits around his bear chest! lol
    houndstooth recently posted…Keeping Those Pearly Whites SparklingMy Profile

    • Good job, sounds like you guys get lots of fun exercise! Thanks for joining the Hop?

  17. […] we’re participating in FitDog Friday, the new blog hop hosted by our pals SlimDoggy and Peggy’s Pet Place. The idea behind it is to share stories about staying fit and […]

  18. This is a great idea! I have never thought about a weighted vest before for either me or Luna. Thanks for sharing!
    Beagles and Bargains recently posted…FitDog Friday: Adventures After the RainMy Profile

  19. We went over and checked the vest out! Mommy thinks it is a good idea and is thinking very seriously about getting one for us!
    Dogs N Pawz recently posted…Follow Up Friday: Would You Participate?My Profile

    • I think you will like it!

  20. Hi Y’all,

    I have a question, but first let me give you some background…

    When hiking on leash, which is rare, I carry my water and collapsible bowl in a back pack. When we’re hiking, usually off leash, I don’t wear anything so I don’t get hung up in the woods and trees.

    Here in the southeast it is warm and humid most of the year and I am a heavily coated Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The pack is much too HOT. Even the doggie seat belt tends to cause me to be easily overheated, so the Humans are freezing when I’m comfy.

    While this looks like a great idea, would this cause me to be much too warm…What do you think?

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…L is for LOVEMy Profile

    • Earlier in the comments, Gizmo asked the same question. We got a good comment from the folks at Dog Tread who sell the vest. It’s made with breathable fabric, but also comes with cold therapy packs. We live in SoCal, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but it might be okay.

  21. What an interesting idea. For both me and our dogs. I’m going to look into a vest for the dogs. Thanks!

    Sydney is getting so much stronger; it’s exciting to see her running around with her brothers again.
    Kimberly, The Fur Mom recently posted…Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treat Recipe from The Sweet Spot BlogMy Profile

    • Glad to hear she’s getting her strength! Enjoy your Sunday.

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