Canine Physical Therapy Exercises You Can Do at Home

by | May 16, 2021 | Dog Health

Encouraging your dog to go through physical therapy is a great way to relieve its discomfort, especially post-TPLO. After all, it offers benefits such as better mobility, flexibility, joint strength, and balance

Canine physical therapy is a practical option for any pet owner because your dog can engage in different types of exercises even in the comfort of your home. So why not try it out yourself? 

Below we’ve provided a list of easy-to-do dog physical therapy exercises for your pet. Just make sure you consult your vet first to make sure if these exercises are appropriate for your dog’s condition.


Massages are the easiest and most basic type of exercise. All you have to do is gently apply pressure on the affected areas. Performing a massage can help decrease pain and swelling in specific muscle groups. Moreover, it helps improve circulation and reduce anxiety. 

Hind Leg Stands

Hind legs stands are a classic exercise for dog physical therapy. The goal of this exercise is to improve your pet’s ability to stand on its hind legs and for how long. Perform this type of exercise by helping your dog stand by holding on to its front legs. Then time how long they can maintain the position. 

If your dog has more advanced skills, you can help your dog stay balanced while standing on their hind legs by using a lure. Hold it up near your dog so they can practice standing up on their hind legs and strengthen their core. Following the lure around will also help them improve balance. 


Want to take the hind leg stand exercise a little bit further? Dancing is great for that because it can help improve your dog’s core, limb strength, and range of motion. Start with hind leg stands as you support them on their front legs. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds.


Once they’re ready for the next step, you can start dancing with your dog by lifting your dog’s front legs and walking them forwards and backwards. Make sure that they keep their spine in a neutral position as you perform this exercise.

Sit & Stand

As its name suggests, this exercise helps improve your dog’s ability to switch from sitting to standing. This activity is great for working your dog’s core. Start the exercise with your dog in a sitting position. Then show them a treat to encourage them to change their position and stand up. 

Once they’re already standing up, issue a command to get your dog to sit back up again. You can repeat the exercise between 5-10 times. Try it out on different surfaces to make it extra challenging and fun!

Heads Up

By performing this type of exercise, you can improve the mobility of your dog’s head and neck. Here’s how you can do it: while your dog is sitting or standing, hold a treat up over their head. This will prompt your dog to lift its head and try to grab the treat as high as it can. 

Then try to move the treat below your dog’s head to see if it can adjust its position and try to grab the treat. You can also place the treat on either side of your dog to encourage them to move from left to right.

Cookie Stretch

A cookie stretch gets its name from the fact that pet owners usually use a cookie or treat to perform this exercise. The treat is used to lure their dog’s nose so it can move its shoulders, hips, and other parts of the body. It’s somewhat similar to the heads up exercise and is great for warming up.

Start with your dog standing on all fours on a flat surface. Use a treat to lure your dog to follow it around to its shoulders, mid section, hips, and front and rear paws. Just keep in mind that for this exercise to work, your dog needs to stay in place and practice stretching to different parts of its body.

Ball Balance

Have you tried performing core balancing exercises with your pet? You can use a wobble board or a balancing ball for this type of exercise. 

Since your dog is still new to balancing, it will help if you support them while they’re standing on top of the balance ball. You might also want to consider wedging the ball in place so it doesn’t move around. Staying on top of a balancing ball is a great way for them to improve their balance and mobility. Once they’re ready, you can even get them to try balancing on the ball even as it moves around. But be careful and make sure they don’t fall over!

Extended Paw Touches

Another type of dog physical therapy exercise is the elevated paw touch. This workout involves getting your dog to stand up while placing its paws on an elevated surface like a chair. Performing an elevated paw touch can help transfer some of their weight to the hind legs to increase rear leg strength. 

When performing this exercise, make sure your dog’s head and neck are in a straight line. Try to get your pet to hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds then repeat.

Controlled Leash Walking

Another physical therapy exercise you can have your dog do is controlled leash walking. And yes, this is possible even when you’re at home as long as you clear up enough space for you and your dog to walk around. 

You’ll need to use a chest harness as well as a regular collar and leash to perform controlled leash walking. The reason it’s called “controlled” leash walking is because the exercise is designed to teach your dog how to walk without pulling on the leash. So when walking your dog, train them to respond to commands like or “steady” or “heel” so they can walk calmly by your side. 

Stair Climbs

Did you know that it’s possible to conduct dog physical therapy at home that increases leg strength and overall stamina? Try stair climbing exercises with your dog. Start practicing by having your pet walk up a few steps of stairs then climbing back down. Once they’re used to it, they can start climbing up a full flight of stairs, turning around, then climbing back down.

When performing the stair climb, make sure to focus on form over speed. So check that each paw lands on each step and that no stair is skipped. After all, hopping up or down the stairs could be a sign of pain or injury. Stay vigilant.

By performing this set of dog physical therapy exercises regularly, you’ll notice a gradual improvement in your pet’s overall fitness. For the best results, make sure regular exercise is coupled with the proper diet. 


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