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Exercises You Can Do With Your Service Dog

Working out seems like a chore to the average person, but it can become tolerable and even fun with the right workout buddy – your service dog, for example! Usually, when able-bodied and -minded people think of a service dog, they imagine that the owner is blind, but there are many other reasons why someone might need a service dog.

Reasons people might need a service dog:

  • Hearing assistance
  • Severe allergies
  • Autism
  • Brace/mobility support
  • Diabetic assistance
  • Medical alert/assistance
  • Seizure support
  • Wheelchair assistance

These are many different types of special needs, ranging from many different types of abilities. Below, we list out a few exercises you might be able to do with your service dog, but we understand that not every situation will apply to you specifically. For personalized suggestions, please feel free to call us and speak with a personal trainer.

1. Swimming

Swimming is probably the most fun way to work out in general, but it can be a really special treat for your service dog. You can try going to a lake for open access (without explanation or qualification), but be sure to take a life jacket! At fitness centers, you should be able to swim with your service dog, according to ADA guidelines, but you may, unfortunately, get some push-back regardless.

2. Lunging (for Treats!)

Hold a toy that your dog loves in your hand and bend down to present it to him. If you’re able, lung down to the ground and come up (with the toy still in your hand – that’s the whole game!). If you’re in a wheelchair, bending at the waist will also be beneficial for you, as it can stretch and strengthen your obliques.

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3. “Jumping” Jacks

This workout (or game, depending on how you want to look at it!) is similar to the one above it: You’ll perform it with a toy in your hand and playfully tease your service dog with it. Rather than bending all the way down to the ground, you’ll hold the toy out to your dog and then lift your arms high above your head in a jumping-jack shape. If you’re able, you can actually do jumping jacks here to incorporate cardio, but if not, this movement is still great for arm strength and endurance.

4. Rolling Over

This isn’t just a trick your dog can do! If you’re able, position yourself on the ground, flat on your back. Hold a toy in your hand above your head and bend your knees. Dangle the toy in front of your service dog and then roll over, lifting your feet off the ground. Perform this as well as you can. Any movement can improve dexterity and core strength.

At Special Strong, we understand that there are so many different types of special needs that require many different types of fitness and nutrition plans. After evaluating your needs, our personal trainers and nutritionists come up with strategies that are uniquely designed to improve your health. You don’t have to take our word for it though. Why don’t you try out our 7-day FREE trial? Sign up now or call for details!


Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.

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