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5 dog exercise ideas

19 May 2023

Written by Dr. John Ambler, former Oakfield Clinical Director, BVM&S MRCVS
Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 19 May 2023

As it’s the season of resolutions and good habits, John Ambler, My Family Pet Vet and Clinical Director at Oakfield Vet Group in the West Midlands, discusses the best ways of keeping your dog fit.

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Exercising with your dog is great fun, and is also a sure-fire way of keeping them healthy and happy.

Just like with humans, exercise also lowers your dog’s chances of becoming overweight or obese, which in turn keeps them safe from the threat of diabetes, heart disease and many other conditions.

Here are some ideas for how to keep your dog well-exercised.


The old classic… and deservedly so! Dogs love walks, and for many of them, 2 or 3 walks a day will provide all the exercise they need. Every dog is different though and some will need more and some less.

One good thing about the chilly January weather is that there’s no threat of heat stroke, so there’s plenty of scope to make your walks longer and more adventurous. How about going on a hike together and discovering some new ground?

A black lab running through a grassy field
Cooper the Labrador Retriever

Running and bike rides

If you have an athletic breed of dog such as a Cocker Spaniel or Border Collie, try going out for a run with them. Lots of routes are dog-friendly, and following you will keep your dog’s mind occupied as well as their muscles.

Read about the canicross adventures of a borrower, Nicola, and her Cocker Spaniel, Dalmatian and Labrador running buddies.

If you’re not the running type, you could try a bike ride instead but make sure your dog is safe and never use a normal dog lead with a bike!


Many dogs love to swim, especially some Labradors, Newfies and Springer Spaniels. This may be more fitting for the summer months… although some dogs don't mind the cold, as long as they are careful around the ice, and get dried and warmed up after their dip.

Kaskae the Alaskan Malamute taking a dip in the sea
Kaskae the Alaskan Malamute

Garden games

If you’re looking to increase your dog’s daily exercise, playing games with them can be a huge help. Interactive games like fetch are great calorie-burners for dogs and their owners alike. They’re also heaps of fun.

Most games can be played inside too – the activity is more or less the same, after all. Try enrichment games too; remember that your dog is burning calories whenever they’re moving, even if they’re just bustling about the house.

Visit our fetching toy guide for a selection of fetch toys.

Archer the Miniature Schnauzer playing tug of war in the garden
Archer the Miniature Schnauzer

Exercise classes or group activities

Classes are a great way of having fun, learning new tricks and most importantly, keeping fit! Why not sign yourself and your pet up to a local exercise class?

If your close friends or relatives also have dogs, you could team up and go for an adventure together. Playing with other dogs will help your dog to stay socialised, not to mention keeping their mind occupied and their muscles moving. Through BorrowMyDoggy you can even make dog friends for your pooch!

Know your dog’s limits

Remember that although exercise is healthy and great fun, it’s important not to overdo it.

When feeding your dog, always stick to the recommended portion size. If you’re concerned about their weight, try cutting back on treats – and steer clear of human snacks altogether.

If your dog is overweight or you're not sure, have a chat with your vet about the best ways of getting them back to a healthy weight.

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