Dog Exercise Routine: Advanced Training Program

CapeK9Cardio’s Official Dog Exercise Routine

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Our original dog exercise article was published in K-9 Cop Magazine. I hope this program will help you enjoy a rewarding healthy experience with your dog. This is a great way to prepare for our Annual K-9 5K Dog Race here on Cape Cod. Please Join us on June 30th 2013 and help raise money for the Friends of Falmouth Dogs.

So you’ve got a fit and healthy dog who is attentive and somewhat focused, but you’ve reached a plateau with their physical training. How do you take your dog’s fitness level up a notch? You can enhance any fitness routine by adding a structured running program. Below is CapeK9Cardio’s four-week training plan that is sure to improve your dog’s speed and strength.

Important things to consider before starting this routine:

  1. Check with your vet to ensure your dog is healthy enough to exercise.
  2. Always perform a warm up with your dog. This will loosen the joints and get their blood pumping.
  3. Build up in small increments and watch for fatigue. End the session if your dog shows signs of fatigue or lies down.
  4. Give your dog water before, during and after the workout.
  5. Select a running surface that is suitable to your dog’s pads. If your dog is an intermediate runner already, their pads should be rough enough for pavement. Beginner dogs need to build up gradually and should start on a softer surface like grass.
  6. Keep your dog on a leash and by your side while running.


Don’t over work your dog, especially in hot climates. Your dog may not know when to quit. Dogs have to rely on their trainers to monitor them at all times.

Explanation of terms in this routine:

Crossing-training (CT): Cross Training activities allow you to give your dog’s muscles and joints some rest, while still working on cardio. When this routine calls for CT, do a cardio activity other than running (e.g., agility, ball, fetch or swimming) at a moderate effort level for 30-45 minutes.

Interval workouts (IW): After a warm-up, run 400 meters (one lap around most tracks) hard, and then recover by jogging or walking 400 meters (the interval is actually the rest between laps). So 3 x 400 would be three fast 400s, with a 400 meter recovery in between.

Rest: Rest is crucial to recovery and helps prevent injuries. Your dog’s muscles will build and repair themselves during rest days. Proper rest will improve your dog’s progress and is just as important as the exercise portion or this routine.

Tempo Run: Tempo runs help your dog push to the next level. Start your run with a 5-10 minute warm up, then continue with 15-20 minutes running at a comfortably hard pace, and finish with a 5-10 minute cool down.

Saturday long runs: After a warm up, run at a sustainable pace for the indicated mileage. Also, be sure you cool down and message your dog’s leg muscles after the run.

Sundays: Recovery run. Your run should be at a comfortable, easy (EZ) pace, which helps loosen your dog’s muscles and will aid in their recovery.

Switch up the plan as needed to accommodate your schedule, just be sure not to do two intense workouts back to back.


Training Routine for Healthy Fit Dogs

1CT or Rest3 x 400 IW2 m run30 min tempoRest3 m run30 min EZ
2CT or Rest4 x 400 IW2 m run30 min tempoRest4 m run35 min EZ
3CT or Rest4 x 400 IW3 m run30 min tempoRest5 m run35 min EZ
4CT or Rest5 x 400 IW3 m run35 min tempoRest5 m run40 min EZ