Click an exercise below to see illustrations and details:

Incline and Decline Exercises:

What are incline and decline exercises?

An incline exercise involves walking up a hill or slope. A decline exercise involves walking down a hill or slope.

Why are incline and decline exercises prescribed?

Incline and decline exercises strengthen the muscles in your pet's legs. They are easy to do and cause minimal impact on your pet's joints. When a pet walks on an incline, the back legs are exercised by moving the body forward. When the pet walks on a decline, the back legs stretch more and more weight can be put on the front legs. This reduces pain in the back legs. Walking on declines also strengthens the muscles in the front legs.

Where can I do incline and decline exercises?

Incline and decline exercises can be performed at a variety of outdoor areas, such as sidewalks, local parks, or recreation areas.

What are the exercise guidelines?

Check with your veterinarian on when and at what level you should start your pet with these exercises depending on their health status and stage of OA. Start slowly with gentle inclines and declines. As your pet improves, use steeper and longer inclines and declines. You can also make the exercises more challenging by increasing the length of time you do the exercise and increasing the speed of the walk.

What are the safety considerations?

Always keep you pet on a leash when outside. Watch for signs that your pet is getting tired. If your pet appears to be tiring, take a break and start again at a slower pace.

Millis DL, Levine D, Taylor RA. Canine Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy. St Louis. 2004.
Saunders. p 253.

  • Ramps placed on a stable surface provide one option for doing incline and decline exercises. Decline exercises helps strengthen the muscles of the front legs by holding the weight of the body, as seen here.

  • Hills also provide a good location for doing incline and decline exercises. As seen here, the dog’s back legs will stretch and strengthen as the legs push the body up the hill.

Click here to find out the stages of OA and suggested exercises. Find a dog park in your area.