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.

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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.

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!

Unlocking the Benefits: Exercise With Your Service Dog

Engaging in regular physical activities with your service dog offers a comprehensive array of benefits, ranging from the physical to the emotional and beyond. Let’s delve deeper into each advantage:

1. Physical Health Benefits

Engaging in regular physical activities such as walks, jogs, or any form of outdoor activity is not merely a routine for staying active but plays a pivotal role in ensuring optimum physical health. This regime is beneficial not just for individuals but is equally important for their service dogs. For humans, these activities are instrumental in managing body weight, preventing obesity, and minimizing the risk of chronic diseases. They significantly contribute to enhancing cardiovascular health by improving heart function, lowering blood pressure, and increasing circulation. Moreover, physical activities are beneficial in strengthening muscles, improving bone density, and enhancing flexibility and balance, which are crucial for maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.

For service dogs, these benefits are parallel. Regular exercise helps in maintaining their weight within a healthy range, preventing conditions like obesity, which can lead to further health issues such as diabetes or joint problems. The enhancement of cardiovascular health is equally vital for dogs, ensuring that their hearts and lungs are functioning optimally. Muscle tone and overall fitness levels are boosted through consistent physical activities, ensuring that service dogs are in the best physical shape to perform their duties efficiently.

2. Mental Stimulation

Exercise provides essential mental stimulation for your service dog. Activities like fetch, obedience training, and agility exercises engage their cognitive abilities, preventing boredom and promoting mental well-being. Furthermore, this mental exercise is as vital as the physical, contributing to a well-rounded and happy companion.

3. Stress Reduction

The endorphins released during physical activities act as natural stress-relievers for both you and your service dog. The shared experience of exercise creates a positive environment, reducing stress levels, fostering a sense of calm, and promoting emotional well-being.

4. Improved Behavior

Regular exercise is a key component in managing and improving your service dog’s behavior. It helps channel excess energy, reducing the likelihood of undesirable behaviors such as chewing or excessive barking. A well-exercised dog is more likely to exhibit positive and controlled behavior in various settings.

5. Strengthened Bond

Moreover, exercising together builds a strong emotional bond between you and your service dog. By sharing experiences of joy, trust, and cooperation, you create a deeper connection with your furry companion. As a result, this strengthened bond enhances the mutual understanding and companionship between you and your canine partner, translating into a more harmonious relationship.

6. Enhanced Socialization

Outdoor activities provide valuable opportunities for socialization, a crucial aspect of your service dog’s overall development. Whether encountering other dogs during walks, participating in group activities, or visiting dog-friendly spaces, your service dog learns to interact with various environments, improving their social skills.

7. Routine and Structure

Establishing a regular exercise routine contributes to a sense of routine and structure for both you and your service dog. Consistent physical activities help regulate their energy levels, creating a predictable daily schedule. This routine promotes stability and harmony in your shared living environment, benefiting both you and your furry companion.

8. Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for your service dog’s overall well-being. Regular exercise, combined with a balanced diet, aids in weight management. This not only reduces the risk of obesity-related health issues but also ensures a longer and healthier life for your furry companion.

9. Shared Adventures

Exercising with your service dog turns routine activities into shared adventures. Whether exploring new trails, jogging through parks, or engaging in interactive play, these shared experiences create lasting memories. They strengthen your bond, add an element of excitement to your daily routine, and contribute to the overall joy of companionship.

10. Promoting Independence

For service dogs trained to assist individuals with disabilities, regular exercise is more than a leisure activity—it’s a crucial aspect of maintaining their physical abilities and independence. Mobility assistance exercises or tasks specific to their training contribute to their ongoing development, ensuring they can effectively carry out their duties and support your specific needs.

Incorporating a variety of activities and tailoring your exercise routine to your service dog’s individual preferences and abilities ensures a holistic approach to their well-being. Always consult a veterinarian to confirm that the chosen activities are appropriate for your pet’s general health and individual needs.

Special Strong provides adaptive fitness for children, adolescents, and adults with mental, physical and cognitive challenges. Start your own Special Strong gym franchise today and create a lasting impact on your community.