Activities For Weightlifters With Dogs

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Introduction

To all weightlifting dog owners looking to include your pets in your work regimen, we have some great news for you; strength training with your dogs is not only a great way to bond with your pets, it's also a great way to increase the health and happiness of your four legged friends! Whether you decide use free weights or machines to help you and your dog get the most out of your workouts, we highly recommend that you give at least one of the following exercises a try. You never know; your dog may take a liking to strength and you may find yourself motivated by your pet's enthusiasm.

Sprinting

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Any Day
Free
Normal
15 min
Items needed
Water for Hydration
Leash
Activity description
Sprinting is one of those good old fashioned, tried and true exercises whose effectiveness is often taken for granted due to how minimalistic of an activity it is; you don't need to spend boatloads of money to go out for a good sprinting session, nor do you need to bring along a treasure trove's worth of equipment. All you really need in order to go out for a good sprinting session are two bottles of water (one for yourself and one for your dog,) and an open enough area to sprint a pretty decent distance. Oh, and some running shoes if you don't already own a pair.
Step
1
Warm up
As recommended before engaging in any form of physically strenuous activity, you'll want to make sure you stretch your joints and muscles before heading out to sprint - doubly so if you haven't jogged or ran consistently for a long time. You can stretch your leg muscles, one leg at a time, by extending your leg and leaning away from it slowly. Don't forget to assist your pup in some stretches as well; gentle manipulation of the legs with a stretching range of movement before and after the exercise is important for your dog, too.
Step
2
Short term goals
The key to getting a good sprint in is to be able to put all of your energy into running as quickly as you can without causing injury to yourself. I feel that I can not stress that last part enough; only run as fast as you can without causing injury to yourself or your dog! When starting this exercise with your dog, start off by running 5 meters forward, then jogging back to your starting point and resting for about 1 minute. Try to repeat this 3 times in order to complete the exercise.
Step
3
Push your limits
After sprinting short distances for a while, you and your dog will gradually need to sprint more and more as your bodies acclimate to this activity. This can be achieved by either sprinting further distances every lap or by sprinting the same distance but completing more laps during every session. Either way, always keep an eye on your dog and make sure to stop once you've hit your limit for the day.
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Weighted Vest Training

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
20 min
Items needed
Dog Weight Vest
Water
Dog Toy
Activity description
Weighted vest training refers to an activity that involves strapping on a vest that's been fitted with an assortment of weights, then attempting to complete other exercises while wearing said vest. Bodybuilders around the globe are likely intimately familiar with the various types of weight vests that have been tailor made for humans, but there are a number of weighted vests that have been specifically made for dogs. Most are moderately prices around the $50 to $80 range, making them an affordable accessory that one can save up for relatively quickly. Just as when a human wears a weighted vest, the idea is to gradually attempt more intense exercises over time.
Step
1
Buckle up
Dog weight vests are very straight forward pieces of equipment to use; simply purchase the right sized vest from your local pet store or online, fasten it around your dog's body, and viola! The challenging part starts when your dog takes their first steps while wearing the vest; they'll immediately notice that their speed and agility have been reduced, keeping them from moving around as fast as they usually do. Take your dog out for a few 15 minute walks with the vest on until their legs become much stronger.
Step
2
Mix things up
Your dog will not only become physically acclimated to the vest after a certain number of sessions have been completed, they'll also become bored with the routine unless you change it up. Feel free to transition from quiescent 15 minute walking sessions into more physically strenuous 10 to 15 minute jogging sessions after your dog has become acclimated to the vest.
Step
3
Keep it up
Consistency is key when it comes to making progress from any exercise routine, so be sure to stay on track with this weighted vest strength training activity by completely a session at least 3 times a week. As your dog becomes stronger, they'll likely be able to graduate from this particular exercise, should you choose to let them.
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Weighted Sled Pulling

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Any Day
Moderate
Hard
30 min
Items needed
Dog Weight Pulling Harness
Weight Sled
Weight Plates
Activity description
As usual, I've saved the toughest exercise for last. Weighted sled pulling is a particularly tough activity even for human bodybuilders to pull off at first; it won't take much effort to find a number of videos that feature human bodybuilders pushing themselves to the limit  during a weighted sled pulling session, turning red as a tomato in the process. Suffice it to say, weighted sled pulling is probably one of, if not the most, physically taxing strength training activities out there, but it's also one of the most rewarding. As long as you keep the following steps in mind, and encourage your dog through thick and thin, your pet will come out on top.
Step
1
Load up
You'll need three key pieces of equipment in order to even attempt this activity; a dog weight pulling harness, an actual weight sled, and an assortment of various weights to load onto the sled. Weight plates are sold in increments of 5 pounds, going all the way up to 45 pounds. When starting out, keep the amount of weight placed on the sled low.
Step
2
Up the weight
It's imperative to keep the amount of weight you place on the sled low initially so that your dog's body can acclimate to the equipment. But after enough time has passed, it'll be time to take the training wheels off in order to let your dog's strength nominally improve. I suggest gradually adding on 5 pounds of weight after your dog has shown you that they can handle a certain amount of weight after training with it for a few weeks.
Step
3
Stay up to date
Keeping a keen eye on things is par for the course for all strength training exercises, and weighted sled pulling is no exception. Keep an eye on your dog and constantly make sure that they're not injuring themselves trying to pull a certain amount of weight that may be too heavy for them. Feel free to consult a professional dog trainer if you'd like to learn a few pro tips that you can use as well.
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More Fun Ideas...

Incline Hill Jogging

This activity is exactly what it says on the tin; find a nice smooth hill top that's accessible to the general public and try to jog uphill alongside your jog. This is another exercise that's great for working out the lower body and is sure to work up a sweat, so bring lots of water.

Water Running

If you have access to a pool, consider giving water running a try. Water running involves getting waist deep (or chest deep in your dog's case) in a  shallow body water and then attempting to run while being partially submerged. This activity is a bit tricky at first but it can also be a great way build up you and your dog's leg muscles.

Conclusion

Jogging up hills, Sprinting, Weighted Vest Training, Water Runs, and Weight Pulling are all excellent ways to introduce your dog to the world of Strength Training. With any luck, your pet will adapt to these types of exercises and begin to enjoy Strength Training just as much as a game of fetch or session with their favorite toy. Always remember to supervise your dog when Strength Training, no matter how easy a particular exercise might seem on the surface, and remain a constant source of support to keep your pet's morale high. After enough time, your dog's health will improve, as well as the bond you and your pet share.