Fitness Tips I Learned from my Dogs: Value of Rest

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I haven’t written recently about “fitness tips I have learned from my dogs”. However, a recent run with our two Labradors had me inspired to share the experience and the associated learnings.


Over the past few weeks, a confluence of factors has made it more difficult for me to take the dogs to the trails for our runs. First of all, I have been very busy at work and have had to engage in a long commute to get to an office to meet with partners and colleagues. Round trip has been 3 ½ – 4 hours. Second, the California drought has broken and we have had lots of rain. Although this is a good thing (for the water supply and the vegetation), it limits our use of the trails due to extremely muddy conditions. (Think swamp like muck and mire).


Needless to say, these two factors have prevented me from running on the trails with the dogs. We still get our exercise in for sure, but not as much and we are forced to leash run on the streets. Overall, our dogs had a couple of weeks of what I would call ‘active rest’ when compared to their normal routine.


About one week after the most recent deluge, I figured that the trails would be usable again so we drove down to trail head. As we pulled into the parking lot, both dogs noticed where we were and seemed extra excited to be back at the trail. When I opened the door, they both jumped out and we took off like we were shot out of a cannon. The usual slow start of sniffing, and stop and go behavior was nonexistent. Furthermore, we ran as fast or faster for our 3 mile run that I can ever recall for the three of us together!

morning run

The Value of Rest in a Fitness Routine

I thought about my dogs’ reaction and our ability to run so well and fast and it occurred to me that there were two main drivers of their behavior, both of which can come in handy for any fitness routine.

First, and most importantly, the dogs were well rested. As a result of being rested, the dogs had lots of energy and their bodies were able to handle the faster pace. Adequate rest is one of the harder concepts for fitness junkies like me to understand, but as my dogs demonstrated, it can actually lead to improved performance. Lesson learned (I hope)!

Secondly, I think that the novelty of being back on the trail, after the forced absence due to the weather, also had an impact on our ability to run so fast. Both of the dogs were so excited and amped to be back at their trail, and that translated to an increased energy and enthusiasm for our run. The lesson here is to make sure that you change up your routine from time to time so that it doesn’t become too much of a ‘routine’ (and boring).


Once again, my canine workout partners have taught me some interesting and practical lessons on fitness. Let’s hope that I am smart enough to use these lessons in the coming weeks and months.

It was cold and rainy so we bundled up!

It was cold and rainy so we bundled up for our nap!


What about you? What is the best fitness tip you have learned (or observed) from your dog’s behaviors?

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  1. Great post!! I also think rest is important, too!
    Lauren Miller recently posted…Can’t Wait Till Spring! Throwback ThursdayMy Profile

  2. to change up our routine is very important, dogs need entertainment for their nose and I’ve learnt if Easy is busy and our walk or run is interesting he acts much better on the leash instead to pull me around like humanoid kite :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog MY PAWSITIONMy Profile

  3. Hi Y’all!

    If I’ve learned anything from keeping my Humans well exercised, it’s that they NEVER learn about rest! Their lives are so crowded they have trouble sleepin’ through the night.

    What does happen, when they get OLD, they come home and collapse! After a long hike on a steep trail, or a jog in the low country, they have trouble concentratin’ and gettin’ their work done. BOL! Y’all will never learn!

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…My World is Beautiful!My Profile

  4. We too are forced into a somewhat resting pattern the past six days with continuous below zero weather. We are out but everything is cut short because of the cold. You can be sure when it warms up starting on Sunday, we will be out with full renewed energy! Until then, short energy bursts is the most we can do. A forced break is a good thing.
    Emma recently posted…One Year Of Nose WorkMy Profile

  5. Barley still needs to learn the rest lesson! She wants to go, go, go all the time, but luckily Mother Nature has also been helping me make sure we get our rest days, too. Our short little neighborhood walks are getting old quickly, so we’re looking forward to having that change of routine on our first slightly warmer day, too!
    Beth recently posted…2014 Recap, New Goals, and a Thank You!My Profile

  6. We do our best to stay active during the rainy days as well. I find that giving them a lot of mental stimulation games etc really helps.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…“Let me take a selfie” A sibe selfie!My Profile

  7. Rest is one of the most difficult things to do in a fitness routine. I skipped a lot of rest days in November and December to achieve a personal goal and now I have a tennis elbow flare-up. Now that I’m back on a normal schedule it feels weird to skip a workout but it must be done. Also very true about novelty and mixing up workouts to keep it enjoyable.
    Thanks for visiting and your very nice comment. I love the font in your watermark in the first picture 😉
    Amy recently posted…Thoughtless Thursday: Three Reasons To Make A Watermark, And How To Do ItMy Profile

  8. Our pups are excellent reminders to both romp and rest will all our effort.

  9. To slow down when you have to, and to immerse yourself in your surroundings. 🙂
    Rama’s Mama recently posted…Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  10. I do competitions with my dogs, yes rest is just as important as exercise. For me I vary the exercise it is not always the same. Somedays we are “dogs at the park”, some days we do agility training, or obedience or field. My dogs LOVE bike runs, good for cardio and sustaining a more moderate speed than just a walk. Just like human athletes, dogs should be cross trained. Usually after 1 day, my young dogs are jumping our of their skin if they do do “something”. The older ones, they can manage a day or two longer.

    • Excellent training program. We get Jack & Maggie out everyday – even though they are 10+, they still need the exercise. Jack gets pretty antsy – I don’t think he’s missed a day since we adopted him.
      mkob recently posted…Fitness Tips I Learned from my Dogs: Value of RestMy Profile

  11. Kilo really understands the benefit of rest. He is go go go, then he curls up and snoozes for 2 hours. He also usually sleeps 9 hours a night. He does need his daily quota of walking, sprinting and chewing though and it has been a freezer here the past 2 weeks. We both hate that. X Susie and Kilo

  12. Great reminder that rest is very important as well!

    Loved the photos of the dogs snuggled up underneath their blankets!
    Kaitlin-SheSpeaksBark recently posted…Fit Dog Friday- Bear’s Leg StandMy Profile

  13. Great post and your right the rest and not doing the same thing every day really pumped my guys up on their training day the other day.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…{This Moment} See Beautiful~SS 2014 ReflectionsMy Profile

  14. Great reminder about taking resting breaks!
    Our pups keep reminding me of the importance of staying hydrated. Actually, Missy reminds both Buzz & myself to drink that H2O ~ she’s very good about staying hydrated, while Buzz has a tendency of focusing on his beloved ball & playing fetch so much, that he would forget to drink if I would’t implement drinking breaks.
    My main vice is drinking coffee, so I need the occasional H2O reminder ~ thanks, puppies!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Our Pack is staying fit ~ Without the Shadow of a Doubt! #walkyourpetmonthMy Profile

  15. Listening to your dogs is the same as listening to your body I think! This is very interesting and we’re glad you are back on the trail again. The cold isn’t the only reason we haven’t been walking, between mom’s back hurting from walking two dogs, and a very bad knee, she needed an excuse to take a few days off. Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…Keeping Active Indoors in #ChiberiaMy Profile

  16. It was really muddy out here when we took the dogs out to run too. I had to rinse my shoes off and wash Mr. N’s paws due to all the mud. No drought is good right?

  17. I’m glad to hear that rest can be good, since we’re being forced into it by our awful weather this winter. I think we’re all going to be very excited when we can get back out there again!
    Jan K recently posted…Pet Blogger Challenge 2015My Profile

  18. Glad to hear you guys got some much needed rain. The timing on this post couldn’t be more perfect because I know I haven’t been listening to Laika as much as I should have the past week. It’s been extremely cold here and we’ve continued to walk our normal route. She does wear wax on her feet but this morning I noticed how cold they had gotten and I wanted to kick myself for not going in earlier. It’s easy to forget that dogs don’t vocalize their discomfort like us humans, and I think a rest is in order for a few days.
    jengabbard recently posted…Pet Blogger Challenge 2015My Profile

  19. Great reminder! Rest and mixing it up are so important. Rocco had a break from agility over the holidays and when we came back he was raring to go! Hydration is also something we usually remember, but change of climate can sure make a difference. I didn’t hydrate as much as I needed to in Florida and got the dizzy spins one evening. Uh-oh! That sure taught me a lesson. Rocco drank more than usual, so clearly I needed to take a lesson from him!
    Diane recently posted…Dog Walk Through Hugh Taylor Birch State ParkMy Profile

  20. Because we don’t have a car (and dogs aren’t allowed on the bus), it’s challenging to get the variety in our walks I would like. But Honey gets very excited when I reach the bottom of a certain hill that leads to a place where she’ll get some off-leash time.

    With the ice we get around here, steep hills aren’t always safe to walk. So I guess that’s our example of rest–flat walks vs hilly walks.

    So I’ve seen the same thing you experienced with Maggie and Jack. Joy at getting back to a favorite spot as well as rest from not muscling up and down (actually harder on my legs than up) steep hills.
    Pamela recently posted…Pet Blogger Super Heroes – Pet Blogger’s Challenge 2015My Profile

  21. Best fitness tip I learned from Haley: You can be pretty comfortable sitting at home sometimes, feeling unmotivated to go for that walk, but once you get outside and get started, it feels wonderful and it gives you more energy than you had before. Awesome!
    Elaine recently posted…Help! My Dog Doesn’t Come When CalledMy Profile

  22. We have found the same thing with our training. Rest can do a ton of good to help with focus and better performance. Even when we hunt the dogs, we swap them out. They could hunt an entire field but their performance is sharper when they are put up now and again and allowed to rest.
    2browndawgs recently posted…Test Driving The New ToyMy Profile

  23. Harley and I rest after any strenuous activity 🙂 We do it because we’re always exhausted, who knew we were doing something right!

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