Hind Leg Exercises for Dogs: Hill Training

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fitDogFriday_180x150Last week, we discussed the importance of working your dog’s hind legs to keep their strength proportionate to their front legs and prevent atrophy as they age and introduced the Slimdoggy Squat exercise.  Another great exercise that you can do with your dog to build their hind leg strength is called hill repeats.


Doing hill repeats with your dog will help build strength in your dog’s hind legs and your own hamstrings, glutes, and calves.  If you keep your pace brisk (when walking) or run up the hills, hill repeats can also improve your cardio (endurance) as well.  Slimdoggy Jack and I often use a combination of both short hill spurts and longer hill jogs as shown in the video clips.  We prefer running, but walking will also provide lots of benefits as long as you keep a good pace.

Hill Repeats, Part 1


It is important to know that moving uphill will work your dog’s hind legs and downhill will work the front legs.  The human analogy is that uphill works the posterior chain and downhill works the anterior chain.  Thus, when we want to place the focus on our dog’s hind legs, we look for hills that offer a steep path up and a much less steep path back down.  Further, if your dog has any front leg issues, we recommend that you avoid any steep hill descents.  The same holds true if you prefer to use stairs.


Hill Repeats, Part 2

As always, you should check with your vet before beginning or changing your dog’s exercise program.  Assuming you are cleared for hill repeats, add them into your dog’s routine 2-3 times per week.  We like to do 5-10 reps of long hills and 20 or more reps of shorter hill sprints. For progression, you can increase the intensity by adding resistance using a weighted vest like the K9 Fit Vest, increase the speed of ascent (e.g. run instead of walk, sprint instead of run), or increase the repetitions.
Stick with this for three months and you will absolutely notice a difference in your dog’s hind legs.  You might also be astounded at the improvement in our own butt and posterior leg muscles!
fitDogFriday_avatarPlease enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts Peggy’s Pet Place and To Dog With Love. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below – lots of fun fitness tips and advice!

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  1. Plenty of hills to work Scooter on around my place so this article is very helpful. Have to keep those back legs toned too
    Paws and Pedals (Kate & Scooter) recently posted…“All I want for Xmas is……” – Part 1 (includes Dog Treat Giveaway)My Profile

  2. Dogs are the best hill trainers ever. The TC Marathon is uphill the last couple miles, so many runners start walking but since Mom trains with dogs and we love to charge hills, it got herthrough running the entire way! Well, also the thought that it is a run and not a walk… Dogs don’t have a mental block/fear of hills like people do.
    emma recently posted…Happy Turkey Day | GBGV | This n That ThursdayMy Profile

    • Hills are great. Sure, they are more difficult than the flats, but they provide so much benefit.

      And you are right, a lot of it is mental. Most dogs don’t think about it they just do it. Great philosophy for us humans.
      steve recently posted…Hind Leg Exercises for Dogs: Hill TrainingMy Profile

  3. I’m going to have to work on my endurance first before we do hill training for Mr. N!
    Tenacious Little Terrier recently posted…FitDog Friday #14 – Multiple IntelligencesMy Profile

    • Well, get going! Just get those sneakers on and get outside and start moving.

      Mr N. would love that short hill and loop around. He could probably do 2 laps for each one of mine.
      steve recently posted…Hind Leg Exercises for Dogs: Hill TrainingMy Profile

  4. Great post! I just went hunting yesterday and the dogs had to do hills so this was so appropriate. We also noticed with Nellie 9yrs that she is losing muscle mass in her hind legs. I think her diet is having her loose it there first and not in her chest.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…This ‘N That Thursday~Turkey Day EditionMy Profile

  5. more great tips from Slim Doggie! Great post today!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Friday’s “woofs” and “growls”My Profile

  6. Hi Y’all!

    Spending time in the mountains gives me lots of BIG hills. Hope y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Follow Up and Fitness on FridayMy Profile

  7. I’m going to do this with Sydney (and Rodrigo) tomorrow. Our property has a lot of hills so this will be great for both of them. All we have to do is walk our property line several times to get a great workout for them. We’ll go for a short walk to warm up 🙂

    Thanks for the tip!
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Is Sydney Chasing Rabbits or is it Canine Seizures #1800PetMedsMy Profile

  8. Love this and this is something that we have been working on with Sherman, slowly. We’re lucky to have a small hill/slope on the side of our driveway so we walk up and walk down where there is no slope.
    Jen recently posted…2013 My Brown Newfies Holiday Gift GuideMy Profile

  9. We did various hill exercises as part of Jasmine’s post-op rehab. Otherwise, we go for walks in the woods, so the terrain is quite varied and it definitely gives good work-out.
    Jana Rade recently posted…Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic AdjustmentMy Profile

    • Good for you.

  10. Those are great tips. I like the idea of using a less steep hill to go down. I have a bad knee and going down steep hills does put a lot of pressure on it. Now to find a decent hill here in the mostly flat Midwest. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

    • Yeah, that could be a challenge – willing to share some of the many hills we have out here!
      mkob recently posted…Who is Duke the Dog?My Profile

  11. Great tips. very well-written, keyword-oriented and incredibly useful. its really interesting to many readers. I really appreciate this, thanks
    Training Your Dog recently posted…The Art of Balanced TrainingMy Profile

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