Fitness Tips I Learned from my Dogs: Just Go For It

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Today we wrap up our “Fitness Tips I Learned from my Dogs” series. We have already written about having fun with fitness, the importance of variety when exercising, the value of proper rest, and eliminating excuses. Today’s tip is about learning to just go for it.


I was in a Bikram Yoga class last week and the instructor was making a point to the students about giving a strong effort in the class. Her suggestion was to notice how strong our bodies can be and that it is often our minds and not our physical capability that constrain our ability to get into or hold a posture. Which is exactly the lesson that I have learned from watching my dogs over the years when it comes to exercise.
All of my dogs have taken a ‘can do’ approach to our exercise. They would always just go for it. Whether it was Sally who would attempt a jump over virtually any chasm, or Tino who would climb a hill so steep his body was virtually horizontal, our dogs did not impose mental limits on what they could do physically. And sure, sometimes they would ‘fail’. Sally might not make the jump or Tino would literally fall down the hill. But at least they tried to test their physical limits.


I often I see folks in the gym or at the track who slog through their workouts and place limits on their abilities even before they get started. They have preconceived notions of that they can or cannot do and often point to previous failures as proof that they are unable to complete the task. Comments like “it’s too far” or “I’ll never be able to run all the way to the top of the hill” are far more common than “let’s do this”. I see it in yoga class all the time, where folks come out of their postures early because they ‘think’ that they can’t hold them any longer.


What the Mind can Conceive, the Body can Achieve

Thanks in part to my dogs, I am at the opposite end of the spectrum. I have developed the ability to ignore my brain when it tells me that I am tired or that I should quit. Why? Because I want to test how far or how fast or how much my body can take, just like my dogs always have.   SlimDoggy Jack provided a great example of this back when we first adopted him, albeit in a slightly different context.


When we first adopted Jack, we used a trainer who recommended using a treadmill as part of his training. The trainer let us use one of his old, dilapidated human treadmills (which we have since learned is not a good idea).   Jack very quickly adopted to the treadmill and he would work out on it daily. One day, while Jack was treading, something happened and the belt started to speed up to full speed, 10 miles-per-hour! None of the dashboard buttons would slow it down (I said it was old and dilapidated). Poor Jack tried to keep up but ended up on his ass.


I finally unplugged the treadmill and after whacking it a few times (my way of fixing mechanical problems), I was able to get the belt speed to respond to the dashboard control. I figured that Jack would not want to get back on this terrible machine again, but decided I would try to coax him back up. Wouldn’t you know it, Jack jumped right back on and finished his workout as if nothing happened. Like my dogs before him, Jack was not going to let a little failure prevent him from getting his workout in.

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There is no doubt that my approach to fitness has been influenced by watching my dogs just go for it, being active without any preconceived notions of what their physical limits might be. Why not give this philosophy a try and see how far, how fast, or much fitter you can be?

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  1. Hi Y’all!

    Very funny mental picture, Jack….

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Oh What a Beautiful Morning, Oh What a Beautiful WorldMy Profile

  2. Oh goodness! Bailie tried to learn the treadmill for a photo shoot and she would forget and fly off the back time after time. She did well, but it wasn’t her thing. You are right, with humans the limits are in your heads, but we dogs can help drag things out for you. I like this post a lot.
    Emma recently posted…Miniature Vehicle SearchMy Profile

  3. We often try to swim as fast as the pups and sadly we always lose! We love your philosophy! Happy Friday!!
    Miley recently posted…In and Around the PoolMy Profile

  4. Great video… and it’s time for us to just go for it. Walk time!
    Diane recently posted…What If You Could Take Your Dog to the Gym?My Profile

  5. I noticed that too, that I ignore the fatigue and the side stitches when I run with Easy. We pondered about a treadmill for Easy (and for me) but I think he is too exuberant for such a thingy.
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog THIS MOMENT…My Profile

  6. Jack did a great job showing off in your video! Working out isn’t always pretty, but that shouldn’t stop you from going for it.

  7. Good article! I, too, have been inspired by my dogs’ attitudes. We are gearing up training for some Fall hiking in the mountains and I’m beginning Cairo on her Obedience journey. Everyone needs to get in shape!
    Rama’s Mama recently posted…The Breakfast SongMy Profile

  8. Poor Jack. I would fall on my butt too…lol.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Running To Stay In ConditionMy Profile

  9. Great post! The idea of not imposing mental limits on what they could do physically is such an inspiring idea.

  10. Poor Jack! This is something I definitely need to take to heart. I’m constantly constrained by mental limits.
    It’s Dog or Nothing recently posted…Agility: Is it For Every Breed?My Profile

  11. Wow! That was a great video! I have thought about getting a dog treadmill for the huskies a couple times, but I have yet to actually look into it! I think they would love it though!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Pet Parade 1 year anniversary HUGE giveaway!!My Profile

  12. I think the treadmill is a great idea for exercise! I have a lot of friends who use them with their dogs. I’m hoping to get one soon!
    Lauren Miller recently posted…Flirt Poles on FridayMy Profile

  13. This brings to mind a couple things….as our Kobi aged, he had trouble with his hind legs. But he would still get around just like before. If he slipped and went sideways, he just got up again. We took walks right up until the end, and even though he was slow, nothing was going to stop him from getting those walks.
    On the other end of the age spectrum…..Luke does not let anything stand in his way when he’s playing. If one of his sisters are in the way, he jumps over them. If there’s an obstacle that he’ll fit on, he jumps on it.
    We definitely can learn a lot from them….just GO, just DO IT!
    Jan K recently posted…FitDog Friday – One of THOSE DaysMy Profile

    • Tino was like Kobi, blind? who cares – I’ll run and run into that fence if I have to. We put a little warning track along 3 feet in front of our front yard fence because he would run into after the UPS guy all the time…nutty dogs. I can just see Luke…
      mkob recently posted…Fitness Tips I Learned from my Dogs: Just Go For ItMy Profile

  14. Poor Jack! I was explaining to a neighbor the other day we haven’t discovered Mr. N’s stamina limits because I get tired way before he does! So far we’re at five hours of hiking.
    Tenacious Little Terrier recently posted…FitDog Friday #41 – Winter is Coming (Gold Paw giveaway)My Profile

  15. Great tips here. I’ve noticed that with my dogs too. I’ve seen Delilah fall a couple of times but that doesn’t stop her from continuing to try. That’s actually how I came up with my blog name. 🙂
    Jodi recently posted…Follow-Up Friday – August 8, 2014My Profile

  16. I have considered letting Bentley use our treadmill. I tried it with our Golden, but he didn’t care of it. Bentley might enjoy it if we start slow. I can relate to jack and the speed thing. When we first bought ours, my son wanted to see how fast that it could go. Very funny results!!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…The Pet Parade Anniversary HopMy Profile

  17. Steve, that was PAWsome. I don’t own a treadmill, but I know plenty of folks that do, and they never use it! You know where my mind is going don’t you? Loved this entire post, although Jack looked like a pro. I promise to send you a video of Harley’s first run – BOL. Have a great weekend!

  18. I’ve thought about getting a treadmill for awhile, I was always apprehensive because it’s hard for me to imagine Laika dealing with it well. It would be especially nice in the Winter time when I come home from work and it’s already dark out.

    Dogs are funny like that though, they don’t seem to let much get in their way when it comes to motivation/trying new things. Laika is my biggest inspiration when it comes to seeking out new adventures we can do together.
    Jen Jelly recently posted…Exercise Tips for Dogs With ArthritisMy Profile

  19. Way to go Jack, way to get back on and go.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Nothing But Norman #56My Profile

  20. Our minds are so powerful, aren’t they?! I have to admit, I let mine hold me back at times. But Lola & Rio… never. They always have a can-do attitude and even if tired, and I pick up that ball one more time, they’re willing to give it a go. They might lay down right after catching it, but they ‘pushed it’ one last time!
    Sarah recently posted…10 Must-Watch Dog Videos!My Profile

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