High Intensity Workouts with your Dog

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The second of the seven fitness habits of highly fit people and dogs is to mix in high intensity training into their regular exercise schedule. Although it can be difficult, high intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, can provide you and your dog with many benefits including:

  • Improve calorie burning, both during the workout and while at rest. Total training time can be much less, yet provide the same (or more) of a calorie burn when compared to normal, low intensity sessions. Intense training is a great way to keep you and your dog from gaining weight.
  • Activation of more muscles and an overall more toned and muscular body. Working out hard makes it tougher on the total body and will help to build stronger muscles and supporting tissues. High intensity training means strong bodies for you and your dog.
  • Better chance of getting runner’s high from the workout. Remember that both humans and dogs are susceptible to the runner’s high phenomenon, but that it does require a fairly rigorous intensity to achieve this state of exercise induced euphoria.
  • Improved athletic performance. For those of you with canine athletes, including agility, fly, and other sports, high intensity workouts are needed to improve athleticism and sport specific stamina.

high intensity interval training

With all of these amazing benefits, it is a wonder why HIIT isn’t more popular with people, either for themselves or their dog. Assuming that you and your dog are healthy, below are some tips that can help you make high intensity training a fitness habit. And by the way, having a health issue is not necessarily an excuse to bypass hard training. As reported in the New York Times, a new study at the University of British Columbia led by exercise physiology specialist Jonathan Little, suggests that HIIT is ideal for those who are suffering from a chronic disease such as pulmonary disease, diabetes, and even cardiovascular disease.


Tips for Incorporating High Intensity Interval Training into your Dog’s Workouts

  1. Use the Tabata 2:1 ratio. The Tabata protocol is a popular and effective technique to build intensity into almost any workout. The idea is to workout hard for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 second, repeating for a total of 8 sets. You can set up sprints, hills, or agility cones and run with your dog for the prescribed time, then resting, and then starting again.
  2. Build up to no more than 2-3 HIT sessions per week. Because HIIT is intense, the body needs adequate recovery time between sessions. Unless you and your dog are elite athletes, start with 1 HIT session a week, and if you want to include another session make sure that it is preceded by at least one or two rest days or low intensity days.
  3. Keep session duration short. Again, unless you and your dog are elite athletes, keep the total workout time to 15 minutes or less. The Tabata protocol mentioned above requires only four minutes to complete. With warmup and cool down, you and your dog can be done in 10 minutes or less! There really is no more reason to use the old “we don’t have time” excuse.
  4. Find activities that you and your dog enjoy and make them intense. Whether you turn a walk to a speed walk, a jog into a sprint, or core work into tabata core work, find activities that both you and your dog enjoy and simply ‘turn up the intensity’. I know people who can turn Yoga and Pilates classes into grueling sweat sessions. You can do the same with your dog’s workout as well.


Anyone who wants to improve their dog’s (or their own) fitness, and burn more calories, should include some high intensity interval training into the mix.

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  1. Excellent idea to do this kind of training along with your dog. We always work on building the stamina of our dogs. We might use some of these.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Buried Under SnowMy Profile

  2. Great information and tips, at least my dogs get this exercise during their HT training in the summer, I don’t get it thou unless I have to run out there and shake them up, lol just kidding I don’t get any of this.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…MK Has Something To Say~Thursday Barks And BytesMy Profile

  3. Great ideas! We run a few laps around the backyard and can incorporate that into a 10 minute workout. We have a hill too for a little extra HIIT!
    Diane recently posted…3 Great Dog Games That Don’t Cost a Dime!My Profile

  4. Wonderful tips and info, thanks for sharing!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Mystery dog treats!My Profile

  5. Great ideas! Right now the only high intensity workout we are getting is running through our 4 feet of snow in our backyard. Not easy! BOL!
    Miley’s Daily Scoop recently posted…Dog InterruptedMy Profile

  6. That’s really intense, haha, pun! Great information, maybe a little out of our league, but thanks! Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…Ways to Keep Fit in Snow for You and Your DogMy Profile

  7. Mom likes to use the street lights…sprint between a set, then return to a jog for a set, sprint the next, on and off for a couple blocks. We dogs love it!
    Emma recently posted…The Need For SpeedMy Profile

  8. I think my dogs have been secretly reading your blog. There have been a couple of (cold) mornings when I’ve struggled to keep up with them because they are moving at such a quick pace.

    I think even increasing your speed to one minute every four or five minutes of walking would be beneficial.
    Jodi recently posted…Follow-Up Friday – February 6, 2015My Profile

  9. You are so right, not having time is a really lame excuse for not exercising! Thank you for sharing this info about high-intensity workouts, we incorporate them a few times per week. Missy loves to race up & down stairs, along with Mommy (i.e. me), and Buzz can get crazy fast racing after a ball. By the way, our vet commented on his trained abs the other day…proud Mommy moment 😉
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Liebster Award NominationMy Profile

  10. Hi Y’all!

    Wow! That’s some high speed gallop!

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…On a Great Adventure!My Profile

  11. Great Tips! Kilo loves to run a few laps around the backyard or house and gets plenty of exercise from walks to the park.

  12. I think we’ll have to add some speed walking/jogging to our routine.

  13. Funny, I’ve really gotten into intervals on my bike (I was a bike racer years ago but I let intervals slip after my “retirement” until a couple of years ago). Without intervals, I don’t have the power I need when I hit a steep hill in the middle of a long ride. It’s also a great way to fit a workout into a short time. The only problem can be, as I’ve discovered, that high intensity exercise can trigger migraines (in humans, including me, so I have to practice “moderation”) – I hope that dogs never experience migraines!

    I think that recall training with my dogs is high intensity for them. I like to leave them in a stay and go a long way away before calling them, giving them about a 100 yard sprint. Also, when they play together outdoors, it really looks like high intensity exercise to me! They chase each other SO fast.
    KB recently posted…A Crazy WinterMy Profile

  14. I think it breaks up the monotony of the same old walk or run too. I’d like to try it in the yard sometimes too (in the spring/summer) with Luke. If I can just get him to not think every time I run that he has to chase me and jump on me! LOL
    Jan K recently posted…#52Snapshots & Friday Follow UpsMy Profile

  15. Any and all exercise for Harley and I is considered High Intensity Workouts! I do like the concept of increasing our speed walk (per block) into perhaps a modified “doodle jog” – We’ll keep you posted.

  16. Some great ideas, it’s fun to add some variety to our exercise.
    Clowie recently posted…Not in the Front Garden!My Profile

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