You've done it: you got your mat out, your weights ready, and you're about to start your regular workout (or maybe not regular, but you're getting there!) when "HELLO!" There's your furry friend right under foot, sitting on your mat or simply jumping all over you as you try to work up a sweat. Why? Why does your pet like to come over and get right in the middle of your workout?
There are a few reasons why pets love to disrupt your workout routine.
You're extra smelly, which is nice
When you're working out, you are most likely working up a sweat. And with your sweat comes your scent. If your pet likes you (and if they are invading your space as you workout that's a clear sign they like being around you) your scent is irresistible! Your dog has up to 300 million scent receptors and your cat has up to 200 million scent receptors because their senses of smell are important for navigating the world. Certain scents not only indicate food (very important), but danger, or in your case safety, because your scent is a familiar one they associate with love! So when you are smelly, it's like they are walking into a perfume cloud that makes them feel safe and happy and loved. Who knew your sweaty workout was so delightful for your pet?
You seem like you're welcoming them to join
When you're working out, you are being (most likely) more active than usual. This can be either very interesting to your pet ("what are they doing?") or very fun and exciting ("they must be playing! They usually jump around when they are playing!"). Dogs, especially, tend to take cues from their family, and will imitate those in their "pack." Hand motions and pointing might feel like you are making commands or directing your dog, which your dog in turn is trying to obey (even if they are not commands at all). This is why when you do yoga your dog might imitate you, especially when you're in Downward Dog!
Meanwhile, your cat might be sensing you are calm or focused. Your cat not only likes attention (as I'm sure you know), but likes to be calm (as we all do). This is a perfect opportunity for them to try to join in your calmness while getting some of your sweet, sweet attention. Quite the contradiction.
In some cases, if your pet has separation anxiety, your focus being elsewhere can make your pet slightly anxious and eager to get closer to you.
They like your workout equipment
Not only does is your workout gear covered in your scent, but a lot of times the items you use appeal to your pet! Your yoga mat is soft and stays in place because it's not slippery, which can feel great to a pet! Your weights and bands that are brightly colored and rubbery can look like the toys that your cat or dog play with. Even the clothes you're wearing tend to be closer to the clothes you wear for softer, comfier, or outdoor activity. (Your dog pays attention to what you wear when you take them for a hike, for example).
What you can do to stop your pet from disrupting your workout
There are a number of ways to handle a pet who won't stop including themselves in your workout time. First, you can actively include them! Go for a run with them, or take them on walks. Dog owners have been found to get more exercise in general due to the fact that they are more likely to go out and be active with their dogs. When you play catch with your dog, you don't have to just stand and wait for them to return, throw in some jumping jacks or squats! There are even dog-friendly boot camps that will work out you and your pup while also practicing training drills. Just be careful not to bump your cat or dog with equipment, and especially be careful not to step on them as they are underfoot.
We also understand if working out with your pet isn't enough. f your pet won't leave you alone due to separation anxiety, you might consider creating a special space for them, or in the case of dogs, crate training. A dog crate can mimic a den, offering a quiet, peaceful sanctuary when the dog feels anxious. When you're trying to work out, this is an ideal time to excuse your dog to their crate. As you crate train your dog, you might even notice that they will actively seek out their crate when they want personal time. As you work out, you can train your pet to understand that they can have "me time" while you have some personal workout time for yourself.