X Marks the Spot for Canine Fitness

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Keeping your pet’s workout fun and interesting can sometimes be a challenge. Yet, there are so many different exercise and drill choices available, many of which are used by humans to improve their own fitness. One example is a family of drills that we call “X marks the spot”. And it’s our “X” post for the A to Z Challenge.


X marks the spot exercise drills are all about setting up visible targets that you and your pet can sprint to. Using visible targets can add variety and fun when compared to plain running. Which sounds more fun, doing laps around a track with your dog or racing back and forth from a set of prearranged targets? Some examples of these types of drills that we have written about in the past include the T-Drill and the Cone drills.

How to Create and X Marks the Spot Drill

Target spacing: when doing these drills, you want to run faster than a jog. Thus, your targets should be close enough that you can maintain a fast pace.


Target sequence: you can set up intermediate targets that force you to weave around them on your way to the end target. This adds a multi-direction aspect to the drill which is good for keeping your dog athletic and well balanced.


Use other props: one of my favorite drills uses a tennis ball and two cones. Start by setting up two cones about 3 yards apart on a firm surface. Have you (or your dog) stand at the first cone and you or a friend stand at the second cone facing the first. The person at the second cone should hold the tennis ball at eye level and then on a count of three, drop the ball. The person (or dog) at the first cone tries to sprint to catch the ball before it bounces a second time. If you or the dog can reach the ball before the second bounce, increase the distance by one yard and repeat. Keep moving further from the start cone until the tennis ball can not be reached before the second bounce.


This drill was made famous by former NFL star Deon Sanders, who reportedly could catch the ball before the second bounce from 20 yards away! Of course, you will need to train your dog to hold the starting position and to release on your count down. Although SlimDoggy Jack is not interested in balls, most dogs will really enjoy this drill and try and catch the ball as fast as possible.

Maggie gets the treat

Maggie gets the treat


In all honesty, I think when Maggie does this ‘drill’ its more about the treats than anything else – what do you think?


Use any of the above examples to create your own x marks the spot exercises to have fun and get fit with your dog.

We are joining up with the Monday Mischief Blog Hop, hosted by Snoopy’s Dog Blog, Alfie’s Blog and My Brown Newfies



A2Z-BADGE We’re joining the A to Z Challenge and keeping our own Blog Hop of all our A to Z posts. Feel free to join the Hop with your A to Z Challenge post! Click here if you want to see the Blog Hop from A to L.  

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  1. In my home, Tucker would chase a ball for anywhere anytime. For Jasper and Lilah, they would do it if there are treats involved.

    Looks like a fun game!

    –Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats
    Susan and the gang from Life with Dogs and Cats recently posted…Story: Of cats, boxes and bookcasesMy Profile

    • Jack is good for maybe 2 games of fetch – and not with a ball, he’ll chase a toy and then grab it and run back in the house.
      mkob recently posted…X Marks the Spot for Canine FitnessMy Profile

  2. Almost through that alphabet! Some good ideas, and I’m glad to hear that Jack isn’t one of those ball obsessed dogs! There are more fun things in life my sisters and I think too.
    Emma recently posted…Comment on A Lesson in GBGV Earodynamics | Monday Mischief by DaltonMy Profile

  3. In our training, our dogs do a lot of drill work which is fabulous exercise too. I can’t imagine catching the ball so quickly. Must be very fast.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Water ArtMy Profile

  4. Well one thing is for sure – we have plenty of “Wilson’s” laying around to play “X marks the spot!” Thanks for yet another fun exercise for us to try 🙂

  5. That’s great! Thanks for your tips!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  6. Treats on the cones is a genius idea for motivation!
    Do you find Jack and Maggie ever get/got super interested in the cones? We used to use them in dog training for various group exercises, and there would always be a couple of dogs who were just interested in the cones and nothing else. Made it interesting, anyway!
    Jen K recently posted…Monday Mischief 23: The Porcupine Strikes BackMy Profile

  7. Jack looks like he was diligently training in that first photo, but Maggie may have been sneaking back to bed.

  8. what a fun game

    retro rover
    retro rover recently posted…We Got Left Behind!My Profile

  9. Xtra great game to play!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Thunderbirds Take to the SkyMy Profile

  10. Glad to hear your comment about Jack liking this too, as I was wondering if it would work with us non-ball obsessed doggies! I’m more interested in chasing other dogs who are chasing a ball (and then herding them of course!)

    Maybe I’ll get my Mum to give this a try with me?

    I hope you’re having a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂
    snoopy recently posted…Monday Mischief – Seniors like my MischiefMy Profile

  11. I had to laugh as I pictured Leroy and I trying to do this. I just picture myself getting very injured, probably because he tried to body slam me against the wall today when he tried to beat me downstairs.
    Jen recently posted…Dog Toys That Are More For People Than For DogsMy Profile

  12. Great drills and yes Maggie is all about the treat! LOL
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Tuesday Tails~TuckerMy Profile

  13. Sounds fun and beneficial! We also did an X marks the spot post, as you’ll know!

    Thanks again for hosting the A-Z list :-))

    Lots of Woofs from Earl an I at Earl’s World!
    Earl Lover recently posted…Y is for You – A-Z Special of YOU! (Blaise and Lena) & Tasty TuesdayMy Profile

  14. I pictured Cricket and I doing this together, and then I pictured her tripping me up so she could get to the ball first! Not that she’d probably have any trouble beating me, when there’s a ball involved she’s pretty fast! Luke is faster I think with his long legs, but he’s not quite as motivated by the ball. Treats would work better for him.
    Jan K recently posted…Monday Mischief – The Short & Long Life of ToysMy Profile

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