Head of the Class Dog Training LLC 

Winchester, VA

Winchester's Premium Professional Pet Training

Keep Fido Fit As He Ages

Keeping your dog fit as he ages is an important part of being a pet owner. It’s easy to exercise your dog when he’s a spry, peppy pup — in fact, you probably couldn’t have gotten him to slow down if you tried! But as dogs age, just like with people, it can become more difficult to motivate your dog to stay active. Dogs have days they would rather stay on the couch than walk around the block, too. So what can you do to prevent your older dog from becoming a total couch potato? Try these ideas!

Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors. Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.

Start Slow

When you start a new exercise routine, do you feel better when you go all in or when you ease into it? The goal isn’t to work your dog’s muscles so hard that he’s sore the next day. He doesn’t appreciate the reminder that he’s had a full-body workout like you might. Plan to start slow and ease into activity with your dog if it’s been a while since he’s been active. Instead of heading out on a five-mile trek, try a 15 –minute walk before breakfast and after dinner each day.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key for dogs just like it is for humans. To see benefits and keep joints nice and nimble, you’ve got to exercise your dog regularly. This is especially important if your dog is overweight and you’re actively trying to help him lose a few pounds.

Controlling Your Dog’s Weight

The more weight your dog has on him, the more pressure there is on aching joints. Losing a few pounds (depending on your dog’s size) can make a world of difference in how active your dog prefers to be. I’ve seen older dogs who lost 10 pounds and reverted to many puppyish behaviors. Talk to your vet about your dog’s ideal weight, and keep that number in mind when giving treats and planning how much activity is needed.

Try New Activities

Leash walking in your neighborhood isn’t the only activity your older dog can partake in. Varying your routine and taking your dog  to different places keeps him interested and mentally engaged. Here are a few ideas to spice up your activities and keep your dogs’ (and your own) interest:

  • Phy Ed for Fido classes– These unique workout classes help you and your dog get and stay fit together. We adapt exercises to our participants’ abilities, so these are great for anyone!
  • Trick training – Whether you do this in a structured class or just work on a few ideas on your own, you’ll have Fido bending, twisting, sitting and rolling. These are great ways to keep joints supple and help your dog stretch out those muscles. Other classes and activities such as Treibball, Barkour, and Pooches with Puzzles will help you keep his mind sharp, too!
  • Play games – How about a good old fashioned game of hide and seek or fetch with a new toy? Activities don’t have to be overly planned to get in some good movement.
  • Dog parks – If you have trouble getting your dog to get active, maybe some fellow canines would have better luck. Visit a dog park for a new active experience. But remember, if you are considering a dog park, choose wisely. Not all dogs are comfortable in a veritable mosh pit of frat boy type dog behavior, especially older or more fragile dogs.
  • Play dates – Consider your aging companions friends. A scheduled play date with a canine pal or two of similar size and play style might be just the ticket.Swimming – Swimming is an excellent exercise for older dogs, because there is much less pressure on their joints. Try a local river, pond or dog swimming center.

Explore Supplements or Medications

If your older dog is showing signs of joint stiffness or pain when rising, he may be suffering from arthritis. There are wonderful treatment options available to keep your dog active and comfortable. Talk to your vet about medications and supplements that can reduce your dog’s pain and increase his quality of life.


Head of the Class Dog Training loves working with dogs of all ages. Our Phy Ed for Fido and trick classes such as Dog Ball/Treibball, or Barkour, or Pooches with Puzzles are perfect opportunities for you to have fun with your older dog. Call us today for more information and scheduling.

SM