I Tried an App to Workout With My Dog, and It Went Surprisingly Well

·4 min read
woman taking a breath after a run with her dog
woman taking a breath after a run with her dog

martin-dm / Getty

It's no secret that owning a dog is good for you, both mentally and physically. According to a 2019 Nature report, dog owners are more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than people without a dog. This is likely due to clocking more time outside walking your dog, which is not only necessary for a pup to get exercise but is also a great way for humans to get some steps in as well. But what happens when you decide to up the ante on your daily dog walks?

Cue CardioCast, the fitness app that has guided audio workouts from cycling to running. The popular fitness app recently upgraded their offerings to include guided "walk and jog with your dog" options. All you have to do is log into the app, click "play" on your workout, and follow the audio instructions from NYC-based fitness coach Jonathan Carlucci and his Labrador retriever mix, Benji. Timed out to include intervals of casual walking, brisk walking, power walking, and then jogging, the classes are a great way to motivate you and your pup to lose some of those pandemic pounds.

With the NYC weather cooling down for fall, I enlisted my Pomeranian Sammy to help me test the new CardioCast class. While I'm no stranger to running, I was a little worried about keeping Sammy motivated for the duration of the 30-minute workout. She is a pretty active dog with our long walks through the park and hikes upstate, but running requires a certain focus that she wasn't as familiar with. Typically our walks require numerous stops to "smell the roses" (and the garbage, the leaf on the ground, the neighbor's dog's butt) so needless to say, I queued up the app with skepticism.

Immediately I was impressed with CardioCast's musical choices. The music was perfectly coordinated to match the rhythm of the workout, switching from Dua Lipa remixes to Tina Turner's "Simply the Best." I don't have a very long stride, but I thought for sure I'd have a hard time keeping Sammy at the same pace as me for the jogging sections. I was surprised to find we found a compatible stride pretty quickly. Your pace with a smaller dog is certainly going to be a lot slower than that of a larger dog, but Sammy was happy to fall into step with me and continued to look up at me for reassurance (which I happily gave her)! For such a sassy and independent pup, I was incredibly proud of her focus!

The jogging sections never went longer than 90 seconds, which gave ample opportunities for Sammy to rest and recover. One of my favorite parts of the workout was definitely the few intervals of bodyweight work where humans do exercises like lunges and squats, while your pup has time to sniff around and rest.

In the end, I felt like running with Sammy allowed us to feel more connected, and I felt encouraged by having my girl by my side and happy that I was able to challenge her with a new activity. When we got home, Sammy happily accepted her treat and promptly fell asleep on her cooling mat, which told me she also had a great time.

A few tips when running with your dog:

  • Use a hands-free leash like this one if you'd prefer to walk and run with the freedom to use your arms.

  • Know your dog's ability. Avoid running with brachycephalic dogs who have short muzzles and might struggle to breathe. Know that with a smaller dog, you may have to slow down your pace so they can keep up.

  • Have water available for your pup, especially in the sun. If it is too warm or too cold out, it's best to leave Fido at home.

  • Use a harness and leash as opposed to just a collar for maximum comfort for your pup.

According to CardioCast CEO Doug Lotz, these classes are "a new way to engage and work out with your dog on a regular basis." While some people might find it tough to navigate a new workout routine in a world of expensive at-home equipment and nervousness about returning to gyms in a post-COVID world, these classes are short, and require nothing more than your phone and your pup. "Who needs a workout buddy—or a Peloton—when you've got a dog?" Lotz said.

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