You probably know that a strong human core reduces and prevents injuries, but did you know that the same concept holds true for our dogs?
Doggie pushups are one way of strengthening the K9 core and also wonderful to maintain flexibility, burn calories, pent-up energy and build those K9 abs. They get bonus points in my book for being fairly easy to teach, so what’s not to love about this exercise?
Check out Missy & Buzz in below video to see what doggie pushups look like:
So How Do I Teach Doggie Pushups?
As Missy & Buzz just demonstrated, doggie pushups are a back and forth motion between a “sit” and a “down” position, so it’ll be easy to teach if your dog already knows those two commands.
Simply tell him to “sit” and then to “lie down”. Repeat that motion several times – that’s it! I typically ask the pups for 3-5 repetitions in one session and reward them with a tasty treat at the end of the exercise.
Use whatever food reward works best for your pup – I love using single-ingredient treats that don’t contain any crap such as artificial colors or preservatives, but that’s just my personal preference.
Sometimes I reward with a small, bite-size treat like the freeze-dried ones from Natural Instinct (I take advantage of the buy 4 for the price of 3 deal at PetCo), and other times I give more of a jackpot style treat like a dehydrated duck foot or turkey neck.
The size of the treat really doesn’t matter to the pups, but I like to keep them guessing at what Mommy will dish out next to keep it interesting and worthwhile working for.
My Treat Bag And Natural Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Food
Missy With An Air-Dried Turkey Neck From Real Pet Food
What If My Dog Doesn’t Know The “Sit” And “Down” Commands?
No worries if your dog doesn’t know the “sit” and “down” commands quite yet. Both are easy to teach – I used a combination of capturing and shaping the behaviors when teaching them to Missy & Buzz.
Capturing simply means to catch your dog in the act of doing the desired behavior, so when Missy & Buzz would lie down on their own, I’d reward them with a treat and associate the word “down” with it. I applied the same logic to whenever they sat on their own – reward and associate the word “sit” with it.
Shaping means showing them what you want them to do. So in order to help them learn the “sit” command, I’d hold a small treat right above their noses when they were in a standing position and then slowly move it back towards their heads, right in between their ears. What happened is that they followed the movement of the treat, meaning their butts hit the ground. Once they did, I associated the word “sit” with the position. Super easy, right?!
When shaping the “down” position, I’d have them stand or sit, hold a small treat in my hand and move that hand towards the ground, between their paws. Again, they followed the movement of the treat, and ended up lying on the ground. Once they did, I said “down”. Also pretty easy to teach.
- Don’t practice on slippery surfaces. Non-slippery surfaces such as carpet or grass provide much better traction than tile or hardwood.
- Don’t practice right after your dog has eaten. There’s a time for everything and exercising right after your dog has eaten is a bad idea. At best, the food will come back up, at worst, your dog will die from bloat. More in that in my blog post about this deadly condition.
- Don’t overdo it. Keep exercise sessions short and fun. I like to exercise 3-4 times a day for no longer than 5 minutes each session. TV commercial breaks are a great time for little exercise sessions, by the way 😉
Doggie pushups are easy to teach because the only prerequisites are the “sit” and the “down” positions, two basic obedience commands that are also fairly easy to teach.
They’re a great strength-training exercise that can easily be used to burn energy and calories when we’re stuck inside on those crappy days we all dread (I’m thinking snow, high winds, and pouring rain).
Enjoy your doggie pushup practice sessions, but remember to avoid them right after having fed your pups. I typically wait for 60 minutes after feeding time until asking Missy & Buzz to perform any type of exercise.
If you’re looking for a few additional indoor exercises, please check out my blog post 10 Ways To Exercise Your Dog Inside On Crappy Days.
P.S. No Excuses! Old Dogs Such As Michael Burkey’s Simone Can Do This, Too!
Are you currently practicing core-strengthening exercises with your dog? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!