Muscle building in dogs

Muscle Building in Dogs

Care and love is very important for a dog’s healthy and vital life, you must have a good approach related to a species-appropriate diet, social contacts, and sufficient exercise. In order to stay fit in old age, muscle building is very important for your dog. With many dog sports such as agility, canicross, or bikejoring are good for your dog’s health. In addition to dog sports, there are also many other ways to strengthen the muscles of your dog. You will find lots of stuff  in this post, however, it is essential for all athletes – whether dogs or humans – to train and thus slowly build up their muscles. How you can do this and which exercises are good to build muscle in the dog, which aids can be used for this, and which complementary food you can feed supportively, you will also learn in this article. Have fun reading!

Why is muscle building useful in dogs?

A well-developed musculature protects dogs against many diseases and injuries. A well-muscled dog has more power to run and romp, can control his body better, and keep his balance. Targeted muscle building can therefore also protect against injuries, for example when cushioning a jump or fall. The muscles protect your dog’s joints and bones and improve overall well-being. The muscle building in the dog contributes significantly to the health of the body, mind, and soul.

At what age does it make sense to start building muscle?

You should only start building muscle in your dog when it is fully grown. Your little puppy has enough to do with sorting his paws and not running against them anywhere. Depending on the breed, height, and individual development, your puppy will be fully grown after twelve to eighteen months. Then the training can start slowly! Large dog breeds take a little longer than small dogs until ligaments, tendons, and joints are ready for strain. Please always pay attention to the stage of development of your dog and do not overwhelm the body of your young dog by building too much muscle. Be aware that you can cause serious damage in the process.

What methods and aids are there for building muscle in dogs?

The training to build muscle for a dog can be very different. The following points will give you an overview of aids, methods, and accessories that you can use to build muscle in your dog.

Many aids automatically bring with them an improvement in mobility, balance, body awareness, coordination, motor skills, flexibility, self-confidence, and concentration. These points are therefore not taken up again in the table. In addition, the joint activity not only strengthens the muscles of your dog but also the bond and trust between you!

Balance cushion

Micro movements on the balance cushion are sufficient, variable application: standing with the front legs on the pillow, all four paws, or sitting

Suitable for beginners: Yes

Wobbly board

Micro-movements on the wobble board are sufficient, variable application: lead the dog over the wobble board, let it sit/make room on the wobbly board or turn it on it

Suitable for beginners: Yes

Gymnastics ball       

Micro-movements on the gymnastics ball are sufficient, variable application: fixing the ball (with legs or e.B. car tires), front paws standing on the ball, while running around the ball with the hindquarters, also “nose football” may be played

Suitable for beginners: Already requires some skill and skill.


Jolly Pets Push-n-Play Ball Dog Toy, 14 Inches/Extra-Large, Red

Jolly Pets Push-n-Play Ball Dog Toy, 14 Inches/Extra-Large, Red.


The hurdles can be taken in step, trot, and gallop. The advantage is that they can also be built by yourself

Suitable for beginners: Yes

Sensor Mat

For tactile perception/improvement of paw perception and hardening, variable application: mats can be folded as desired, the dog can be guided over them, turn on them and perform tricks such as sitting, space, or paws. Suitable for puppies as well as adult dogs and seniors

Suitable for beginners: Yes

Obstacle course  

Flexible construction: May include jumps, slaloms, tunnels, tires, ramps, cavaletti, etc., Attention: please do not overload the dog, some of these obstacles put a lot of strain on the joints, ligaments, and tendons

Suitable for beginners: Yes, depending on the difficulty.


Agility Slalom - Dog play & exercise toy

Agility Slalom – Dog play & exercise toy.

Walking through deep sand           

A very simple and effective method of building muscle, suitable for puppies as well as adult dogs and seniors

Suitable for beginners: Yes


A very simple and effective method of building muscle can be done in the dog swimming pool as well as in the favorite swimming lake

Suitable for beginners: Yes


Great fun factor, variable application: dog can stand on it, sit, lie, show tricks and of course jump, advantage: can also be used by children and the whole family

Suitable for beginners: Yes, already requires some skill and courage


Strengthens cardiovascular system, improves endurance, disadvantage: must either be performed at the dog physio or buy an expensive treadmill

Suitable for beginners: Yes, under the supervision of the dog physio

Underwater treadmill

Strengthens cardiovascular system, improves endurance, disadvantage: can not be done at home

Suitable for beginners: Yes, under the supervision of the dog physio.

Isometric exercises in dog training

Isometric exercises are perfect for muscle building. To explain to you what this is, we have taken them out of the table and want to describe them in more detail here:

What are isometric exercises and what do they do?

Unlike training with aids such as a wobbly board, cavaletti or a treadmill, you do not need any accessories for the isometric exercises. It only takes you and your dog. A major advantage of these exercises is that your dog learns to relax in the process. Relaxation leads to serenity and this leads to your dog being better able to deal with difficult or stressful situations.

But how and why do isometric exercises cause relaxation?

In these muscle building exercises, you put your hand on different parts of your dog’s body with gentle pressure. First of all, this leads to the fact that your dog perceives your hand, the touched body part, and thus himself better. The body feeling is strengthened and your dog can be brought out of a situation in which he is restless, nervous, excited, or tense and back into the here and now.

The touch leads to a change in the tension of the muscles. The gentle pressure causes your dog to tense the touched muscle group. The aim of the exercise is the subsequent targeted relaxation – letting go. This is important so that no tension accumulates in the body, which your dog then has to get rid of elsewhere.

You should build up the training in small steps. If your dog is familiar with the exercise, you can use it in acutely stressful situations. After each challenging situation, you should do the exercises back home in a quiet environment. You yourself give your dog a feeling of peace and security, so he will also be able to get involved faster.

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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Brown Rice 30-lb.

What do I have to consider when building muscle with my dog?

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  • In order for the muscle-building in your dog to be expedient, you should definitely pay attention to the following instructions and take them seriously:
  • Don’t start muscle building until your dog is fully grown.
  • Don’t forget to warm up, especially when it comes to speed in addition to skill!
  • Find out what your dog’s favorite treats are and use them!
  • Keep the time intervals at the beginning of the training short.
  • Consult a local professional with whom you can put together individual training for your dog.
  • Do not overwhelm your dog mentally or physically, your sensitivity is required here!
  • Take small steps, take your time and celebrate minimal success!
  • The fun should not be neglected even in muscle-building training.
  • Daily form: Pay close attention to when it is too much for your dog. Even though he may have managed more in the last training, that doesn’t mean you have to put one on it every time.
  • Give your dog enough rest periods and time to regenerate, because this is the time when the Muck is grow!

Muscle building for old dogs

It is in the nature of aging that we become calmer, slower, frail and less mobile. This is also the case for our dog seniors. Targeted muscle building for seniors can help your dog to stay fit and vital for a long time even in old age. In the retired stage, the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles often no longer want to do as they could for a lifetime. That’s why it makes sense for you and your dog senior to seek professional support. A dog physiotherapist knows exactly what is important when building muscle for old dogs.

There are quite a few simple exercises that dog seniors can do well. This refers to isometric exercises as well as sensory mats, balance cushions or stretching and stretching exercises without aids. In order to execute them correctly and effectively, it is best to have them shown to you by the professional on site.

Nutrition & complementary food are important for muscle building

A species appropriate and balanced diet contributes significantly to the health of your four-legged friend. It’s never too late to provide your dog with all the vital nutrients. Special complementary food can additionally support muscle building.

The main ingredient in your dog’s diet is meat? Top!

A high protein diet is important for muscle building. Fish is also a good protein supplier and should not be missing in the bowl. An adequate supply of amino acids is essential for your dog to regenerate and build muscle. Carbohydrates and vitamins provide your dog with important energy. High quality fats, such as those contained in salmon, borage, hemp, flax and other oils for dogs, provide additional energy and strengthen the immune system.

If you are doing high-performance sports with your dog such as draft dog sports, tournament dog sports, agility or other dog sports, he needs special muscle building dog complementary food. To do this, it makes sense to take advantage of a dog nutrition consultation to put together the perfect mix for your dog.

Bully Max High Performance Super Premium Dog Food (15 lbs.)

Bully Max High Performance Super Premium Dog Food (15 lbs.).

Exercises to build muscle for your dog

So that you can get started right away, here are three great exercises for you and your dog, which you can do at home, in the garden or on your walk:

The “Elephant Trick”: Muscle Building Exercise at Home

This exercise is perfect for building muscle in the hindquarters. To do this, you need an object on which your dog can stand with his front legs. For example, a thick book, a sturdy box, an overturned bucket or whatever else you have at your disposal. Make sure the item is safe and cannot wobble or tip over.

First, teach your dog to stand on the item with his front legs and reward him with a treat. Step by step, you then get your dog to walk around the object with his hind legs without taking the front paws down. Stand head-on in front of your dog with a treat in your hand so that he can see the reward. Then you slowly walk a few steps sideways around the object. As soon as your dog moves his legs, reward him directly for it. It is best to insert a command for right and left around.

With a little practice and patience you will soon make the first turn! Don’t forget to change direction at some point so that both sides are trained evenly.

Cavaletti Training: Muscle Building Exercise for the Garden

Cavaletti training can be done wonderfully in the garden. You do not need any purchased Cavaletti poles at the beginning, but can easily use a few branches, a broom, walking stick or other pole-like objects. You put them one after the other on the floor and lead your dog over it. The goal of the exercise is for your dog to concentrate on placing all four paws between the poles so that he does not touch them when walking over them. This trains coordination, balance and body feeling as well as muscle building in the hind and forehand and in the entire back.

Slalom & “Floor Work”: Muscle building exercise on the go

By “ground work” here is meant to let your dog run on different surfaces. Maybe somewhere near you there is a lake with a small sandy beach or a deep sandy path. Running off the beaten track in the forest over hill and dale trains your dog’s coordination and dexterity (and your own!).

Read Related Posts: Dog Sport Agility

You can also install a slalom from time to time. For example, densely standing trees are suitable, between which you lead your dog. But even without trees, the exercise works great to strengthen the back muscles of your dog. For example, you can let it run between your legs or use a curb to help.

At the curb you lead your dog up and down with the help of a treat. Make sure that he really puts all four paws one after the other on the curb and down again. Up and down and up and down. What is quite simple is at the same time super effective!

Why is the strengthening of the hindquarters particularly important?

The muscle building in the dog in the hindquarters is so important because it initiates the beginning of all movements. The force is distributed over the back and the forehand catches the load. If the dog has no strength in the hindquarters, any movement is difficult for him. In old age, muscles are first broken down here, which is why it is also extremely important for your seniors to start building muscle in the hindquarters in good time.

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Conclusion: That’s why muscle building is important in dogs!

Sufficient exercise and targeted muscle building are just as important as sufficient rest breaks and a species-appropriate and balanced diet.

It’s great that the health of your four-legged friend is important to you!

With the right exercises to build muscle, you can prolong and improve your dog’s life. You not only strengthen muscles, skills, coordination, concentration, self-confidence, body awareness, mobility and motor skills of your dog but also your bond with each other!

Joint activities strengthen trust. Therefore, it is very important that you and your dog always enjoy the exercises.

If you are unsure, feel free to contact a dog trainer or a dog physiotherapist in your area. It is sometimes easier to create an individual training plan together after the professional has met you and your dog.

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