Your Dog as a Workout Partner – Research Recap

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Getting motivated to exercise/workout is a challenge for many people.  Life always seems to get in the way and many of us just accept a sedentary lifestyle.  As hard as it is for me, an exercise-aholic, to fathom this the numbers tell the sobering story.

US Obesity Statistics

As we reported in our recent Pet Obesity Infographic, according to the US Center for Disease Control, more than 69% of the adults in the US age 20 and over are overweight or obese!  If that isn’t bad enough, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, almost 53% of all dogs are overweight or obese.  Whether you are two legged or four legged, the bottom line is that there is an obesity epidemic in the US and evidence suggests that it exists in many other countries as well.


Starting or maintaining a proper exercise program is hard for many people.  Buying the latest equipment or DVDs might motivate us for a few weeks, but inevitably, we revert back to our sedentary practices.  Yet, there is one thing you can do to increase the likelihood that you will get in a daily dose of exercise: make your dog your workout partner.


Research on Dogs as a Workout Partner

Dogs are great running partnersThere is much research that supports the idea that dogs are great workout partners.   Several studies show that dogs can be effective motivators to get people moving.  Dog owners are more likely to take regular walks and are generally more active overall than people who don’t have dogs.  Here is a summary of a few notable studies:

  • A Canadian study revealed that dog owners spent more time in mild and moderate physical activities and walked an average of 300 minutes per week compared to non–dog owners who walked an average of 168 minutes per week.
  • A study of 41,500 California residents found that dog owners were about 60 percent more likely to walk for leisure than people who owned a cat or no pet at all. That translated to an extra 19 minutes a week of walking compared with people without dogs.
  • Dog owners who walk their pets are almost three times as likely to meet national recommendations for physical activity as those who don’t, according to a review from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • A survey of Michigan adults found that dog walking was associated with a significant increase in walking activity and leisure time physical activity (LTPA). Compared to non-dog owners, the odds of obtaining at least 150 minutes per week of total walking were 34% higher for dog walkers and the odds of doing any LTPA were 69% higher.
    Sadly, the study also found that far too many dog owners are not exercising their dogs; the study authors report that more than one-third of all dogs in the US are NOT walked.  The most common reasons for not walking their dog include:
  1. Near 40 percent said their dogs ran free in a yard, so they didn’t need walks
  2. 11 percent hired dog walkers
  3. 9 percent said they didn’t have time to walk their dogs
  4. 9 percent said their dogs were too ill behaved to take on a walk
  5. 9 percent said the dog was too old to go for walks
  6. 8 percent said the owner was too old


  •  An Australian study found that dog ownership in households can increase children’s physical activity and curb sedentary behavior. The study reported that children were 49 percent more likely to be physically active in a dog-owning family than other children without dogs.  Note to First Lady Michele Obama: if you want to kick start your Let’s Move program, let’s tie it to our PetsMove program.  Dogs rock and they can help kids get in shape!


Submit your reasons that your dog is a great workout partner

With all that research pointing to the undeniable conclusion that owning a dog is good for a human’s fitness level, we would like to know your top reasons for/benefits of working out with your dog.  Next week we will compile the answers and post a follow up article listing the top reasons/benefits.
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. I adopted Tynan in March and by the time the holidays came I was inspired to send a heartfelt thank you to the shelter not only for uniting me with my heart dog but for helping me lose 30lbs.
    Bethany recently posted…A Different Kind of Bird DogMy Profile

  2. I know without my dogs, I wouldn’t be motivated to climb out of my nice warm bed and hit the cool fall air. It is actually one of the reasons I wanted bigger dogs.
    Hailey and Zaphod recently posted…Things to be Thankful ForMy Profile

  3. Hi Y’all!

    The only time an alarm is set in this house is when the Humans are traveling and want to get out of bed at 3AM. A normal day I’m the alarm. I come over with my cold nose and poke any exposed bare skin, shake my head to “snap my ears”, stretch and “moan a whine”…and if all that fails? BARK OUT LOUD!!! and keep barking until I’m sure the Human is going out the door with me!!! BOL!!! GREAT TRICK!!!

    That’s my job…keep these Humans exercised!!!

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Quiet BeautyMy Profile

  4. Quinn needs the exercise to be a calmer dog – so it motivates me to get out of the house. Plus when she sees a squirrel, I feel like I’m a sled and she’s the sled dog, it makes that little part of the run a bit easier.

  5. Rocco is always on the go, so he keeps me moving — whether it’s getting out of bed early to start the day with play or getting outside for a walk/run! Agility also keeps us both fit, both physically and mentally. AND it helps improve memory as you learn and remember longer, more intricate courses.
    Diane recently posted…FitDog Friday Neighborhood EditionMy Profile

  6. Of course we agree!

  7. Up until Callie tore her ACL in February and had the surgery, the majority of our exercise consisted of fetch/keep away games in the back yard and the occasional walk at the park in town (a 20-minute drive in good traffic). Once she had the surgery, I had to walk her around the yard to get her slowly back to normal mobility. We both lost a little weight with all those walks, but the yard got to be a bit boring/monotonous after a while. And she doesn’t really like the treadmill that much. Now that she’s able to run and play again, we’re back to fetch/keep away…we just have to do our best not to overdo it for Callie.

    • Yes, be careful not to overdo it and watch Callie carefully for indications that she has had enough. If she had her ACL repaired, she should be OK to do most activities that don’t require sharp turns and cuts.
      steve recently posted…Your Dog as a Workout Partner – Research RecapMy Profile

  8. Who goes for a walk by themselves unless they have no method of transportation and need to get somewhere. Mom rarely walks on her own, but as long as at least one dog is around, she would walk until she drops, it makes it so much more fun and it gives walking a purpose. Running with a dog gives you a partner, something to focus on besides how many more miles. There are countless reasons to workout with a dog!
    emma recently posted…Falling for Fall | GBGV | {This Moment} See BeautifulMy Profile

  9. If I didn’t have my dogs I don’t think I would get out and walk half as much as I do know, they keep me motivated!
    Jen recently posted…Raising Sherman And Leroy. The Puppy YearsMy Profile

  10. He is the best reminder. He knows when his walk time is and he is ready to go. There’s no forgetting a walk in this house!
    Also I think walking with your dog helps you to slow down and observe your surroundings more closely. I see all the wildlife and feral cats of course but also things like a house in our neighborhood that has an entire window full of Troll Dolls for Halloween. I didn’t know they even still made those!
    Tenacious Little Terrier recently posted…FitDog Friday #8 – FranticMy Profile

  11. “Near 40 percent said their dogs ran free in a yard, so they didn’t need walks.” – Yikes! Even if my dog’s been in the yard all day, he’ll get a serious case of the “zoomies” as soon as I walk outside. (You know, when a dog’s so excited/energized he just runs in circles and zooms all around!) He clearly still needs somewhere for that energy to go – he doesn’t just get rid of it by napping on the porch and chasing a squirrel or two during the day, and I’d bet most other dogs don’t, either.
    Kelly recently posted…Two Dog ButtsMy Profile

  12. My dog(s) are my great workout partners because it means I am spending time with them. They love to go for walks and see all the sights and smells and it’s a bonus because we both get exercise. When were out hunting we are getting exercise and they are doing what they were bred for. A win win.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Nothing But Norman #13My Profile

  13. Just returned from a walk and it was longer than usual, because I had to work in walking near a trash can (poo bags), avoid joggers (there were two), and a couple off leash walkers. And then towards the end of our walk, I remembered that I parked in a new place so we had to adjust to make it back to the car.

    The dogs are exhausted and sleeping and I have at least 3 hours of uninterrupted blogging time! Wooo hooo! Dogs rock!
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Adversive Dog Training | Why Hitting Dogs Doesn’t Work #AKCDogLoversMy Profile

    • With three whole hours we expect greatn4ess out of you Kimberly.

  14. I have always been one of those people who would let being busy interfere with my workouts. My hubby doesn’t care so much for walking, though he would go if I asked. The dogs are the one thing that really get me motivated to get out there, I wouldn’t do it much alone. And I don’t think I ever would have started jogging again if it wasn’t for wanting to step up our exercise program a bit to help both Cricket and me. When I work at home, I don’t just sit at my computer all day…I am up and down letting the dogs in and out, or going out on the deck and throwing the ball for them, even if we’ve already had our walk or run that day.
    Jan K recently posted…Follow-Up Friday 10/11/13My Profile

    • That’s what it’s all about – just moving – up and down the stairs, tossing the ball, walking around the yard…it’s all good.
      mkob recently posted…Black & White Sunday 10-13-13My Profile

  15. Thanks to my very active dog I’m up before the rest of the household (and I’m someone that has always loved their sleep-ins) and I cycle early in the cool morning air (because it warms up quickly in the tropics) just so my dog can get the intense running workout that he seems to thrive best on. I now start the day pumped rather than my sluggish sleepy mode that only moved on after my first caffeine hit of the day!! A dog is the best motivator & reason to get active…… Happy FitDog BlogHop
    Paws and Pedals (Kate & Scooter) recently posted…Extreme Road Test – EzyDog Convert Harness (Dog Backpack)My Profile

    • Great point. Exercising early has so many benefits and anecdotal evidence supports the notion that people (and dogs) that exercise in the morning are more likely to stick with it than those that wait until the evening.
      steve recently posted…Monday Mischief – Bath Time My Profile

  16. Gizmo is the best motivator i could ask for…He waits by the door each morning to remind me it’s time to go, and is always ready for a walk, or a hike or a paddle…whatever I may plan he’s there for me…And I know he’s happiest when we have some fun activity every day
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…Ghost Tree on B&W SundayMy Profile

  17. I admit we don’t walk our dogs all that much. Sure during hunting season, there are long walks. But normally they are training rather than walking. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Wordless Wednesday–Autumn WalkMy Profile

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