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The 30 Day Guide: Dog Muscle Building Workouts

Anybody who wants to improve their health—I’m talking humans here—knows that it’s not as simple as simply doing one form of exercise a few times a week. It’s not enough to just do push-ups, or only ride a bike. Instead, for all-around health you need to do a variety of things: strength training, cardiovascular exercise, stretching, and so on.

And a healthy dog needs the same thing!

If the only exercise your dog ever gets is going for the occasional run (cardiovascular exercise), that’s definitely better than nothing—but what about strength training to build muscle tone? Or balance training to build core strength?

To keep your dog as healthy as possible, they need a wide variety of exercise. That’s why we put together this 30 day guide to building muscle:

Dog Muscle Building Guide (infographic)

Cardiovascular/Aerobic Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise includes anything that gets your dog’s heart pumping. It’s vitally important for every dog because it burns calories, strengthens their heart and lungs, and improves your dog’s energy and endurance.

Examples of aerobic exercise include:

  • Flirt poles
  • Treadmills
  • Jenny mill / cat mill
  • Sprints (with or without a weight vest)
  • Jogging and running

One thing to keep in mind is the type of surface you’re on. Running on a harder surface may be OK once in a while, but over time it can be hard on the joints. So try to find softer surfaces whenever possible for your dog’s cardiovascular exercise.

Resistance/Strength Exercise

Resistance training is like going to the gym and lifting weights. By training your dog’s muscles against some opposing force, you’ll help them to grow bigger and stronger while strengthening bones.

Examples of strength training include:

  • spring poles
  • weighted vests
  • elastic bands (bungee leash)
  • sled pulls (either on the field or track)

It’s important that strength training should be done in a progressive manner. You should never try to start your dog off with an extremely difficult exercise or a weight your dog can’t handle. Instead, start light and gradually increase the resistance over time. This will give your dog’s body time to grow stronger and adapt to the newer, heavier resistance.

Recommended training video:

Additional ways to improve your dog’s mental health & physique

Balance Training

Balance training isn’t as well-known as strength training or cardio exercise, but it can be very important in helping to improve your dog’s core body strength and coordination. And the more balanced and coordinated your dog is, the lower their chances are of getting injured.

So how do you put your dog through balance training? The most common method involves using a balance disc, which is a oval-shaped inflatable tool. Your dog stands with 2 feet on the ground and 2 feet on the disc, and has to fight against the natural “wobble” to keep their balance.

Just make sure to target all 4 legs, including both the front and hind limbs, during your balance training sessions.


Get in the good habit of helping your dog to warm up and stretch for a few minutes before every exercise session. This will help get your dog in the mood for exercise while warming up their muscles, helping to improve performance and reduce injuries.

The type of stretch you do should depend on the type of exercise that will be following after. And remember that you should let your dog warm up a little before stretching (it’s not a good idea to over-stretch cold muscles).

Finally, keep in mind you can also stretch at the end of an exercise session, too. At that point your dog’s muscles will be nice and warm, so they’ll be able to get into a deeper stretch.

Skills, Drills, & Games

The last step in giving your dog a great all-around workout is to help train the final part of their body…the brain!

By training your dog’s ability to focus attention and solve problems, you can give your dog a mental workout that will help keep them sharp and obedient while reinforcing a good relationship with your furry, four-legged buddy.

There are many different drills and games you can run through with your dog, from cone drills to line drills to games that force your dog to figure out how to get a treat out of a bottle or other container. On top of being good for your dog, they can also be loads of fun!

Tailor These Exercises to Fit Your Dog

The last thing to keep in mind is that every dog is different, and has different exercise needs. So feel free to vary these exercises based on your unique dog. If your dog has trouble with stamina and gets tired easily, they may need more cardio. If your dog is underweight and needs to bulk up a little, focus more on strength training.

It may sound like a lot of work, but it will be well worth it when you see how energetic, happy, and full of life your dog becomes. And who knows—you might even get a little exercise yourself in the bargain!

The Ultimate Muscle Building Diet for Dogs

Without the proper diet, your dog will not be able to build muscle, or recover from intense training. To achieve maximum muscle building results and speed up recovery time, we recommend the following diet:

Plenty of cool and clean drinking water should be available at all times.

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