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Dog owners are increasingly thinking about their dogs’ fitness. While light walks and pee trips are regular, keeping your dog active and fit can help improve your dog’s overall physical health and get out any restless energy. It can even help prevent or alleviate problem behavior in the home.

The AKC FIT DOG program began in 2018 to encourage people and dogs to be more active together. Now, you and your dog can officially earn AKC FIT DOG titles!

How to Earn AKC FIT DOG Titles

The new AKC FIT DOG Title program has grown to help dog owners create structured and individualized fitness plans to do with their dogs. There are three different titling levels that dog owners can achieve with their dogs—Bronze, Silver, and Gold.

Pomeranian wearing a coat walking outdoors on leash.
©Alex -

The titles are the newest aspect of AKC FIT DOG, a program designed to provide a structured way for owners and dogs to improve and maintain their health and fitness. While earning these three titles, dogs and owners will earn points in six different fitness categories. To earn these titles, dogs need 5 points for the Bronze title, 10 points for the Silver title, and 20 points for the Gold title from at least two of the following categories for each title:

  1. AKC FIT DOG Course
  2. Community runs, like the AKC’s annual FIT Dog Turkey Trot
  3. Walks and hikes, either independently with your dog or as a FIT DOG club
  4. “Unique to You and Your Dog” activities, such as parkour or swimming
  5. AKC Performance Titles that are fitness-related, such as Agility, Diving Dogs, Fast CAT, or Obedience
  6. AKC Parent Club Performance Titles, including Sledding, Carting, and Draft Dog

These new titles are designed to reward and enhance the fitness routines and activities you already do with your dogs. So long as a dog is cleared by their veterinarian for physical activity, there are many ways that they can participate. This includes both slow and gentle walking up through advanced athletic sports and fitness courses.

Can My Dog Participate in AKC FIT DOG?

Before starting any kind of exercise program, it’s important that your dog is healthy and that any increased fitness won’t be overworking them, which can lead to exhaustion and injury. Talk with your dog’s veterinarian about the specifics of FIT DOG to ensure these activities are appropriate.

Dogs must be at least 6 months old to earn the Bronze title. Age requirements for other sports that count towards the AKC FIT DOG titles must be taken into consideration.

Weimaraner dog running in a lake to retrieve a treat bag
©Christian Müller -

Generally, these titles are versatile and accessible to a wide variety of dogs and owners. There are accommodations that can be made at each title level for both a handler’s and a dog’s disability to allow them to participate. Per the Participant Guide for the new program, dogs with disabilities can join as long as they can safely perform the required skills. To AKC FIT DOG titles, when their owner submits the title application, dogs must also have a(n) AKC, Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL), or Canine Partners registration number.

Equipment Needed to Participate

Depending on which of the six activity categories you choose to pursue with your dog, the equipment necessary will vary. For example, if you take a FIT DOG Level 1-3 course with an AKC FIT DOG Instructor, they may have all the fitness equipment available to borrow, or you may need to purchase some to have at home, especially if your class is online.

For other activities, like earning your dog’s free AKC FIT DOG Magnet, there are tracking forms available from the AKC to document your activity. However, for most activities to earn your dog’s titles, you’ll need to provide your own proof of completion. This could be a copy of a title certificate or proof of the distance walked or ran. You can do this by using a fitness tracker designed for humans like a Fitbit or an Apple Watch, a dog fitness tracker like a FitBark or Fi Smart Dog Collar, or a health or running app.

As documentation to include with your title application, you can just take a screenshot on your device of how far you and your dog have gone. AKC has also provided paper documentation forms for those who don’t have access to apps or devices.

Getting Started in AKC FIT DOG

You can submit documentation for the AKC FIT DOG titles now. The Participant Guide has all the information that you’ll need to get started, including covering which previously earned performance sports titles are grandfathered in and how to start documenting your current fitness activities.

Because FIT DOG titles are noncompetitive, you and your dog aren’t competing against any other dog/handler teams. So you’re able to choose which activities are most appropriate for you and your dog and have fun bonding while doing so.

Are you looking to improve your overall health and fitness, as well as your dog’s? Start working towards your AKC FIT DOG title!

Designed to improve the health of both dogs and owners, AKC FIT DOG is the perfect opportunity for you to work towards fitness goals while participating in fun activities, like swimming, hiking, and community runs. Start getting FIT with your dog today.

Related article: How to Train Your Dog to Run With You: Tips for Running With Dogs
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