How To Teach Your Dog To Do Doggie Pushups

How To Teach Your Dog To Do Doggie Pushups

Doggie pushups are a fun and engaging exercise routine for dogs that can help build their strength, agility, and mental focus.

It’s essentially a series of commands that your dog follows, incorporating the two different movements of “sit” and “down”.

The best part is that this dog exercise is easy to teach!

How to teach your dog to do doggie pushups

Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated in 2023. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you. 

How to Teach Doggie Pushups: The Benefits

But first, I’d like to point out its benefits!

You probably know that a strong human core reduces and prevents injuries.

But did you know that the same concept is true for dogs? 

Teaching doggie pushups really does come with a plethora of benefits:

  • Strengthens the bond between you and your dog(s)
  • Maintains flexibility in your dog
  • Gets rid of pent-up energy
  • It’s a K9 core strengthener
  • Builds those K9 abs
  • Burns calories

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 the video below to see what doggie pushups look like:

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Missy & Buzz showing how to do doggie push ups. 🐩🐩 A great way of burning some calories, energy, & building abs! One way of keeping them relaxed tonight during the fireworks display. 💥

A post shared by K9sOverCoffee 🐕☕️ (@k9sovercoffee) on

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’s 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 reps in one session and reward them with a tasty treat at the end of the exercise. 

I Use Food Rewards

Use whatever (food) reward works best for your pup.

I love using single-ingredient dog treats that don’t contain any crap like artificial colors or preservatives, but that’s just my personal preference. 

Plus, I’m a raw feeder, so the treats I use for the pups reflect their diet.

Side note: If your dog is more motivated by a favorite toy or TLC rewards from you, then use that!

Whatever motivates your dog to work is fine.

Sometimes, I reward with a small, bite-size treat.

Other times, I give more of a jackpot style treat like a dehydrated duck 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 worth working for.

K9sOverCoffee | How I Taught The Rollover Trick - High Value Treats
Raw boost mixers. Works as treats, too.
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Missy with an air-dried turkey neck from Real Pet.

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 I taught them to Missy & Buzz.

How does capturing work?

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. 

How does shaping work?

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. Then, I slowly moved 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’ts:

  • Don’t practice on slippery surfaces. Non-slippery surfaces like carpet or grass provide much better traction than tile or hardwood.
  • Don’t practice right after your dog eats. There’s a time for everything and exercising right after your dog eats is a bad idea. At best, the food will come back up, at worst, your dog will die from bloat.
  • 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!

How to Teach Doggie Pushups: Bottom Line

Doggie pushups are easy to teach because the only prerequisites are the “sit” and the “down” positions. Both are 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. I’m thinking snow, high winds, and pouring rain. 

Enjoy your doggie pushup practice sessions, but avoid them right after your pups eat to avoid bloat.

I typically wait for 60 minutes after feeding time until I ask Missy & Buzz to perform any type of exercise. 

Are you currently practicing core-strengthening exercises with your dog? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below this blog post!

Related Reading:

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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8 responses to “How To Teach Your Dog To Do Doggie Pushups”

  1. Colby Avatar
    Colby

    We love doing doggy pushups with our dogs. We also take Sport Dog classes that help strengthen our dogs core. We do exercises balancing on exercise balls, stretching, and basic obedience on platforms. Unfortunately, Archer still has a very weak core…I don’t think he’ll ever be able to sit pretty. He just has the wrong body shape. On the other hand Linus (australian shepherd) was built for the our Sport Dog classes.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Very cool to hear that your pups do pushups! I also like to practice basic obedience on anything I come across while out and about – it’s super fun and great for bonding. I’ve never taken a sport dog class, but now I really want to! No doubt in my mind that Linus rocks that class! Aussies are so full of energy and ready to work.
      How old is Archer now? Maybe his body shape will still change over time? It’s definitely easier for smaller pups to sit pretty.

      1. Colby Avatar
        Colby

        Archer is 17 months. I’m pretty sure he will never “sit pretty” since he can barely do it with me holding his paws. The sport dog class is a ton of fun and even though Archer isn’t too good at it we both have a great time.

        1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

          Aw, well having a good time is the most important aspect of it all!!!

          1. Colby Avatar
            Colby

            I totally agree! 🙂 Happy New Year!

          2. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

            Thank you Colby, Happy New Year!

  2. Anna Avatar
    Anna

    I love watching Missy and Buzz working out! Rocky does his push-ups. Also, we do a morning routine on the cold days (like today) where we run up and down the stairs with lots of jumping on beds, couches with sits and stays combo.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Anna! Awesome that Rocky does his pushups, too. We have the same morning routine as you do on cold days, haha 😉

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