Dog Stretching Exercises: 6 Easy Ways To Stretch Your Dog

There are different ways to exercise your dog, and for a fuller experience, you should try various options.

Dog stretching exercises go hand in hand with a dog massage. Games and workouts build a dog’s muscles, intellect, and cardiovascular system. Dog stretches, however, are associated with relaxation. It could also be a remedy for joint pain, and it comes with other benefits.

Dogs and exercise go hand in hand, regardless of size and energy level.

Studies show that dog owners spend an average of 5 hours walking their dogs every week, which is 3 hours more than people without dogs. [1]

So, if you’re an aspiring pet parent, bear in mind that you will have to be committed to exercise.

Combined with a good diet, exercise is essential for a dog’s health.

Let’s look more into the art of dog stretching exercises and walk through the right ways to stretch your dogs.

The Importance of Dog Stretching Exercises

Dog Back Leg and Hip Stretch

Stretching is just as important to dogs as it is to us, and if you remember how good your muscles felt after this activity, you already know some benefits of stretching.

As we stated above, stretching is linked to massaging (especially for dogs) so we will consider both relaxing techniques under the branch of stretching. 

Here are some importance of stretching to dogs:

  • It makes the muscles flexible.
  • It helps relieve joint and muscle pain. 
  • It brings a feeling of calm and contentment.
  • It improves the human-dog bond between you and your pet.

Stretching is essential for dogs of all ages, sizes, and energetic levels.

For puppies, light touches can work. Adult dogs can take on more stretching exercises than the puppy. Senior dogs need stretching to ease off arthritic pain and give them a better old age experience.

Energetic dogs put a lot of stress on the muscles, so stretching will relieve the tension.

The low energetic counterparts are more prone to getting stiff joints, and stretching can prevent that. 

Both small and big dogs need exercise, the latter more so. Big dogs are prone to musculoskeletal problems which stretching can reduce. Stretching is also good for dogs healing from an injury.

Why is My Dog Stretching on Its Own?

French Bulldog Pup Stretching

We are focused on how you can stretch your dog. However, there are some moments you may find your dog stretching at a whim.

There are several reasons this could happen, some more serious than others. 

The serious reasons are tied to their health. Stretching could be a sign of something wrong, but in these cases, it will be accompanied by other symptoms.

For example, if your dog is stretching while struggling to take a breath, it could be a sign of respiratory problems.

Also, note if your dog is showing signs of pain or is stretching in excess. When this happens, consult a veterinarian.

The less serious reasons a dog will stretch include:

  • As a sign of submission.
  • Because it feels good.
  • For mating purposes. 
  • Tiredness (just like us).
  • Stress.

In any case, remain observant. 

Can Stretching Be Bad for a Dog? 

So far we’ve looked into the importance of stretching, and what it means if your dog is stretching on its own.

We’ll be moving into the practical aspects of stretching your dog, but before that, here’s an important interlude.

Poor stretching is detrimental to the health of a dog, and it is worse than not stretching at all.

Not only do you risk hurting the dog, but you could also injure it. If you’re inexperienced in stretching, visit a veterinarian or a professional trainer to learn first.

General Tips to Stretch Your Dog 

Let’s begin with some tips to lay the foundation for stretching your dog.

It could either be a fun, relaxing process or a tensed, crazy one that your dog would want to avoid. It all depends on you.

The first foundation to lay is patience, both at the onset and at other moments. You need to be patient and not rush the process for the maximum result.

If you’ve never stretched your dog before, being patient will help it get accustomed to the activity. Combine gentleness with an attentive nature. 

Your main purpose for stretching should be for the dog’s well-being.

This could either be to rehabilitate from an injury, relieve stiff joints, ease the pain of arthritis, warm up before and after an exercise, etc. 

As you stretch, watch out for any signs of pain or discomfort and adjust when needed.

You should also observe for any bumps, changes in skin color, rashes, odor, or any other abnormal signs. If you discover any, consult a veterinarian. 

6 Ways to Stretch Your Dog

Back Leg and Hips Stretch 

The back leg stretch works on the hips and can be instrumental in relieving arthritis. It also improves hip movements, as well as the back and leg.

What’s more, it oxygenates the ankle, knee, and hips.

To execute a back leg stretch, begin by holding the rear end close to the knee and gently draw the leg back till it remains in an extended position.

Hold it for a few seconds, release it, then do the same with the other leg. 

Shoulder Stretch 

The shoulder is an important part of a dog’s anatomy, and most of a dog’s weight lies on these shoulders.

Stretching is important as it improves mobility, loosens the chest, and works on the back muscles.

A good shoulder stretch has an impact on other parts of a dog’s body. 

Start by moving your dog’s legs forward till it extends. Hold the extended legs for a couple of minutes, release them, then repeat the process.

Once the shoulder stretch is complete, release the muscles by moving the front legs front and back in the form of a pendulum.

If your dog is in pain or has mobility problems, stretch the dog lying down. 

Belly Rub

A  good belly rub can reduce anxiety, which is very useful if your dog is prone to it.

Belly rubs also help loosen muscles, improve breathing, and work on the hips, spine, and lower back. It would also soften the solar plexus and the diaphragm. 

There are many benefits to the belly rub, but it must be done with caution as the dog’s belly is sensitive.

Start by placing your hand on the belly, and once you find a pulse or heat you release and repeat.

You could move your hand in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, and each one can ease constipation and diarrhea respectively. 

Chest Stretch (Chest Opener)

The chest opener takes care of the chest section, which is one area in a dog that handles a lot of strain.

Also called the chest stretch, this helps respiration, the shoulder and rib muscles, as well as the brachial region.

The chest opener should always be accompanied by a gentle chest massage for relief.

To achieve a chest opener, take hold of their front legs and move them gently to the sides. Count a few seconds, release, and repeat.  

Butt & Back Rub

The butt and back rub reduces anxiety, makes the hip and spine more mobile, and improves a dog’s movement as a whole. This activity helps make the dog relaxed and fit.

As with the belly rub, the pressure you apply should be light and in circular motions.

Move from the butt region to the spine, and be extra cautious around the spines. 

Back Stretch

A back stretch can go hand in hand with a back rub, and it is often recommended you do the latter after the former.

The benefits of a back stretch include a better flow of the spinal fluid, making the hip mobile, and keeping the dog balanced. 

The back stretch will be better accomplished if you have some treats.

With your dog standing, position yourself at one side and move the treat slowly to the tail area.

Ensure that the dog is following the treat movement till it turns its head and is in a “C” shape.

Let it remain in that position for some seconds, then release and repeat on the other side.

Frequently Asked Questions

What stretches are good for dogs?

Incorporate different stretching activities when stretching your dog rather than sticking to just one.

This would ensure that every part of its body gets influenced. Some examples of stretches you can do are chest stretch, backstretch, and shoulders stretch. 

Can I stretch my dog’s back?

Backstretch is one activity you can do for your dog. It works on the spine region and the hips. Back stretches can be accompanied by back rubs. 

Can stretching hurt a dog?

Stretching has to be done gently and with good knowledge of it. When done poorly, you can end up hurting the dog. 

Do dogs like stretching?

There’s no concrete evidence to show whether or not dogs enjoy being stretched. What we do know is that they need it just as much as humans do. 

What would happen if I don’t stretch my dog? 

There are numerous benefits your dog stands to gain if it stretches. Depriving it of these benefits would be unwise on your part. 


Physical and mental exercises are all good, yet you can do more for your dog’s well-being by adding stretches into its fitness routines.

This can be done before/after exercise, or as a standalone activity.

You should be gentle and patient while stretching so you won’t cause more harm than good, but when properly done the benefits are numerous. 

Also See:
How To Exercise Your Dog Indoors (The Right Way)

Authored By

Robert Miller

Robert Miller is a dog behaviorist and professional dog trainer. With more than eight years of hands-on experience in the field, Robert relishes sharing his vast knowledge to help prospective pet parents choose the right dog breeds that suit their lifestyle and provide dog owners with the information they need to ensure they raise a well-behaved canine companion. ...