More Back Leg Exercises for your Dog

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We had a great reaction to last week’s post on back leg exercises for dogs. So much so that we thought we would describe another great back leg exercise for your dog: tug.


Virtually every dog owner knows the game of tug and has probably played it with their dog countless times. But many pet owners don’t realize that it can be an effective exercise to target the hind legs and thus, an important tool to reduce hind leg atrophy.


How to Use Tug to Target a Dog’s Back Legs

If you want to use tug to target a dog’s back legs, simply adjust the angle of the tug toy in relation to the dog’s body. You can do this by remembering this simple rule: the higher you hold the toy relative to the dog’s body, the more load will be placed on the dog’s back legs. Conversely, the lower you hold the toy, the more load will be placed on their front legs.


With SlimDoggy Jack, we try and keep the toy higher than his torso, which forces him to use more back leg strength to tug. The key is to make sure that the dog is adjusting to the higher angle through their entire torso and not just by changing their neck flexion (which could place undue stress on their cervical spine). Like with the elevated touch drill from last week, this method of playing tug will work the dog’s back legs as well as their core muscles as they struggle to pull back against your force.

Playing tug with your dog is also a lot of fun and can be great exercise for you too (depending on the size of your dog and their voraciousness at play. I know that a few minutes of tug with Jack and we are both pretty spent. At least until round two!

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  1. Hind leg strength is so important to keep up! Thanks for another great tip.
    Your pals,
    Diane and Rocco
    Diane recently posted…Our first AKC Agility Titles!My Profile

  2. Hi Y’all!

    Hmmm…I never really learned to tug. Generally, at least when my Human learned about training her retrievers, tugging was discouraged. In my case, not taught at all. She’s recently tried to teach me to tug, but as soon as I feel the pressure I drop the toy. Since I weigh 100 lbs I can easily pull her over or knock her over.

    I guess I have 2 questions…1. How does she teach me to tug without her gettin’ hurt. and 2. How to I learn the difference between what’s okay to tug on and what isn’t. Remember, everything I’ve learned is to pick something up and “present it to hand”, releasing immediately.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Finding Beauty…My Profile

    • Hmmmm….Hawk you may have a problem…For our pups they naturally enjoy tugging and so all we had to do was teach them to “release” on command.
      Maybe your mom can try teaching you backwards. “Take it”, and then use a new command such as “tug” as she pulls gently then rewards you for any pressure you give. 🙂 Goodluck!
      DZ Dogs recently posted…Beauty All Around Us.My Profile

  3. Tug a war is a real simple way to work out those back legs. Great idea!
    Emma recently posted…Comment on My First Nose Work Trial by EmmadogMy Profile

  4. many thanks for a great idea, we will try it :o) sadly Easy is not really a sportsman, he first pulls like crazy and suddenly he opens his mouth and we land on the floor… probably our “back legs” need some execising too :o)
    easyweimaraner recently posted…easyblog THIS MOMENT…My Profile

  5. Tug of war is a favorite around here, I’ll keep this tip in mind for sure to make sure my two keep those back legs in shape.

  6. What a fun way to help build back leg strength! Barley doesn’t like to tug, but every now and then she’ll humor me and play tug for a minute, so I’ll be sure to keep the angle of the toy in mind!
    Beth recently posted…Hello, Fall.My Profile

  7. I never thought of using tug to help build their hind strength. It’s going to be very important to keep those muscles strong, especially as they age. Thanks for the tip!
    It’s Dog or Nothing recently posted…Paw Pad Help from K9KelpMy Profile

  8. We used to hear that tugging wasn’t good to do with your dog. But mom found out that I loved to do it so we do play tug. Thanks for letting us know that its good exercise too! Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…Bunker Hill Walk No. 3My Profile

  9. Kilo loves to play tug. Didn’t know it was such a great workout for him.

  10. Tug is fun. I has no idea it would be a great strengthening exercise too. Thanks for the great info.

    Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats.

  11. This is great to know since tug o war is our favorite game. ☺
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Purina ONE PERKSMy Profile

  12. Oh that’s good to know. I hadn’t really thought of tug as a back leg workout, but that makes sense. We play a lot of tug around here.
    Lindsay recently posted…Yes, it’s OK to adopt a dog if you work full time!My Profile

  13. Mr. N plays tug sometimes… and sometimes he even wins!

  14. More great tips! I will be using your back leg tips for Mika.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Pawz ‘N’ Clawz NEWS! – Pet items storeMy Profile

  15. We never get sick of tug around here, I’m going to be adding this technique to make it more work for her back legs. Tug is Laika’s favorite game, I love that we can get even more benefit out of it. Thank you for sharing.
    Jen Jelly recently posted…Safety Tips For Walking Your Dog During Hunting SeasonMy Profile

  16. I play tug o war with my guys and they play it with each other. The geese usually are from 5-10#. We are going hunting tomorrow am, if we get some I will be sure to weigh them.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…FitDog Friday~Another Goose HuntMy Profile

  17. That looks like fun although tug is one game we kind of stay away from….lol…don’t want to tug on the ducks. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…River WalkMy Profile

  18. So genious! Never would have thought tug games being physical therapy! Cool.
    Jana Rade recently posted…PT Pit Stop: Wheeled Carts Keep Them Doggies Rollin’ (Part II)My Profile

  19. This is great to know! Usually Sheba and Luke play tug themselves, but maybe we’ll try to get involved more often so they use their back legs more.
    Jan K recently posted…Sunday Selfies Silliness & Blog HopMy Profile

  20. Oh another great back leg exercise!! We’ve been using the stairs. When we come back from our walk, I have Sampson do the stairs five times. Five times down and six times up and we do this twice a day. Plus we are always walking on a hill, so we are working on building up those back leg muscles.
    Jodi recently posted…Curiosity…it’s Not Just for CatsMy Profile

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