Blog post by Amber Quann KPA-CTP, CPDT-KSA 

If you’re like me, there are some days where you just can’t make it to the gym.  Whether the culprit is your crazy schedule, the negative temperatures outside, or your dog’s sad puppy dog eyes begging you not to leave again, the struggle of being torn between a good workout and staying cozy at home is real!  

But if you live in a small house like me, and/or have a dog that wants to be involved in all of your activities, getting in a good home workout can be an additional challenge for those of us deciding to skip the gym.  If left to his own devices, my dog Roo would be all up in my business as I’m trying to get in a good workout rhythm, leaving both of us frustrated.

Thankfully, we’ve worked out (pun, haha!) a great system for avoiding this frustration!   We’ve modified Karen Overall’s Protocol for Relaxation framework to include workout skills like squats and burpees and push-ups and sit-ups.  Roo settles on his mat quietly right next to my workout area and gets a treat from the nearby treat bucket every few minutes. This way he gets to be somewhat involved in my workouts and I don’t have to worry about tripping over him while carrying my dumbbells.

We didn’t start with the long intervals between treats that we work at now though!  If you want to give this a try with your dog, here is a model to follow to start building up this skill!  For most dogs it will be easier to start with workout exercises that keep you upright before adding in exercises that put you on the floor right in their reach.


Foundation: Settle on a Mat. If your dog doesn’t know this skill, he should!  You can see a short video of this skill here.  Work through at least day one of the Protocol for Relaxation to build a little bit of distraction and duration into this skill.

Set Up: Mat or towel near your workout station. Small treats in container readily accessible but out of your dog’s reach if he’s likely to sneak a taste while your back is turned.

Once you are set up, try an easy workout sequence like this: 


Hey you just did 15 squats! Good job!  You could replicate this same framework with lunges, oblique leg lifts, jumping jacks (add some shorter intervals between treats here, this is an exciting one for many dogs!), etc. 

Here’s another variation to try:


When your dog is doing well with your upright exercises, try some that put you on the ground!


Look at those abs! ;) You get the idea.  You can start to add more reps between each treat for your dog, expanding to the duration that you want to see.  Added bonus is that after your workout, your dog will have gotten some quality one-on-one time with you as well, and practiced a very important self-control skill that is applicable to so many areas of his life!


Happy sweating!