The Official Houston SPCA Humane Education Blog

Teaching us about our animal friends

Exercise and Your Pets

If you are like me you have made some sort of New Year’s Resolution – you don’t have to tell me but if it has to do with fitness, you are not alone!

grumpy new year's cat

New Year’s Resolution? Do I really have to workout…

Did you know that your pet could be the best workout partner you could wish for?

You heard that right here folks! Exercising with your pets is a great way to keep in shape and keep you on track for a healthy and fit new year.

Why is it better to train with your pets?


Have you ever been mid-workout, feeling completely exhausted and not wanting to go on? Having your dog running along next to you is great motivation to keep on pushing yourself! They are steady going with their exercise and will help to pace you. And you really don’t want to be tired before your dog is, right?

Your dog or cat can also help provide a fun twist to your workouts. Some pets may see exercise as playtime and are super excited to have some fun with you! These feelings will transfer to you – giving you happy endorphins that will help your workouts last longer. Did you know that just hugging your pet can make you feel happier? Try it out and see! (Maybe not if you have a fish… don’t try that… seriously)

Your stress also decreases when working out with your pets which can help you focus on the exercise at hand. Going for a long run can be really stressful if you keep thinking about school or work. Taking your pup along for the run will help your focus on their needs and keep you stress free.

What benefits do my pets get from working out?


Now, we aren’t telling you to have your pets start a weight lifting program but having your furry friends run around and exercise for at least 30 minutes per day can help them live longer and healthier lives.

First and foremost your pets need time to bond with you. Most of us are guilty of not spending as much time as we want with our animal companions and adding in an exercise regimen into your daily routine can help you grow closer to your pets.

Your dogs also need exercise to keep their brains busy. You will see most destructive behaviors decrease as you spend more time with your pet, running around having fun. The more stimulated their brain, the less they want to tear things apart.

Physically, dogs and cats can become obese if not given enough opportunity to run or play during the day. That exercise helps to burn off any excess calories that may be in your pet’s diet from a few too many treats.

Before beginning any exercise program with your pets, talk to your veterinarian to see if their breed, age, weight, or diet might limit what you can do with your little fuzzballs.

Here are few exercises you can do to keep you and your pets fit and trim for the new year!

Doggie Squat Up-Downs

All the workout motivation on imgur has even inspired a dog

If you can get them to do this – I will be impressed.

This exercise works best if your dog knows how to sit, lay-down, and jump up on command.

How to: Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Ask your dog to ‘Sit.’ As you squat down, ask your dog to ‘lay-down.’ As you come up from the squat, ask your dog to ‘jump!’ Then repeat.


In your fenced in backyard, you are going to play tag with your dog – just like you did with your friends as a kid!

How to: You start out as “it” and must “tag” your dog. Then run around and have your dog follow you until they “tag” you – then you are it again and can playfully run after your dog to tag them again! You will both get a workout with this game.

Cat “light” Abs

We didn’t forget about your cats!

How to: Hold a small flashlight or laser pointer in each hand, and do sit-ups. At the top position, wave the light or laser back and forth at the wall so your cat will chase them. Then proceed to finish your sit-up. Continue until you are tired or your cat gets bored!

What if you don’t have a pet to exercise with?

Apply to be a volunteer with your local animal shelter! Walking dogs and playing with cats can be incredibly good exercise for you and gives the shelter animals the chance to spend time with new people. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the Houston SPCA, check out our volunteer page by clicking here!

And lastly, to leave you with something awesome – this guy is awesome!

Sources:,,, and


The content provided by the Houston SPCA is not meant to be a substitute for medical or veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician, healthcare professional and pet’s veterinarian before em-“barking” on a fitness program.


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