How to Train Your Dog to Run with You
One of the things I love about dogs is that they force us to become more active. Having to take your dog on a walk every day will give you the required minimum of 30 minutes of cardio doctors recommend. If you already have an active lifestyle and you want your dog to be a part of that, your fitness will get even better. Most dogs like running anyway, so incorporating the two activities can be seamless, provided you don’t have one of the more indoorsy dog breeds that would rather watch Sponge Bob all day.
However, going on a run without proper preparation could be a disaster for you, your dog, and whatever tree you mistakenly run into. Chasing a ball and running steadily on a route are two different things entirely. While your dog sees the immediate fun in chasing things, she would need some time to realize that you are not running after something, you are just running.
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Getting Your Dog Prepared For The Road
There are two ways to run with your dog – on a leash and off-leash. The first one works best within an enclosure. If you are going to be jogging on the street then you would need a leash. Before you can begin, there are a few other pieces of training you need to have mastered.
The first one is teaching your dog to walk nicely on a lead. As the saying goes, you need to learn to walk before you can run up and down a highway. If your dog trails too far behind or goes too far ahead when you walk, then you are bound to run into problems if you try jogging with her. You should also teach your dog to answer when called. There will be many distractions and the last thing you want is for your dog to bolt across the road in pursuit of whatever it fancies.
Another important safety tip to take note of when as you train your dog to run with you is to make sure your dog does not eat for at least an hour before and after the run. This would prevent any barfing or tummy upsets. You’re not exactly sure how your dog would respond to a steady 20-minute jog – she could be able to run after eating, but that’s probably best after she has gotten used to it. For extra precaution, have your dog checked by the vet, especially if this is going to be a regular activity. Some people would advise you not to take an 18-month old pup, as it is still in the development stage and running can be rigorous.
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Get All The Right Gear As You Train Your Dog to Run With You
When you go for a run, you only have to think about yourself. What songs to listen to, which route to take, how your hair looks as it bounces in the wind etc. Now, you have to be mindful of your pace, your dog’s paws, the weather, water, and poo! Yeah, that alone might make you want to reconsider, but it gets good in a minute.
Here is a list of some of the gear you might need as you train your dog to run with you:
- A short leash of 3-6 feet
- Pooper scooper/plastic bag
- Portable doggie dish (optional)
- An ultra-sexy fanny pack
The short leash is necessary for keeping your dog within your pace. If it is too long, your dog can get too far ahead of you and could get into all sorts of danger. As with all new training, treats are necessary for morale. Your dog needs to be encouraged to keep up the good work. You can use the portable doggie dish to give the treats and water, although it could be rather cumbersome. If you don’t run for long (like somebody I know) you could wait until you get back home before your dog has a drink.
The one item you cannot do without is the plastic bag to pick up after your dog. Thankfully, dogs aren’t like birds who poo as they fly, or that would be very, very awkward! Moving on, the fanny pack would hold all those things and give you room to move and no, it doesn’t have to be sexy, but that’s not cool. While this might be uncomfortable to begin with, you will get rid of it and soon find you don’t need to carry as many things, such as the treats and water bottle.
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Road Safety Tips
Nobody knows your dog better than you. When you take her out for walks or fun in the park, you know what catches her attention, how she responds to people, things, and strange sounds. This would be a good indicator as to what to expect when you start jogging. It will also help you determine which route you should run.
When you do start running, do keep your dog next to you or at most a couple of steps in front of you or behind. There might be other runners on the road, and you don’t want your dog mistakenly running into them or jumping on them or their dogs. You also don’t want a situation where you are hugging up the path with the leash.
Also, be mindful of children and slow movers on the road. Some people get startled by running dogs, so you may want to give a heads up when sneaking up behind them.
Going For Your First Run
Having a running partner is very motivating, especially when the other person gets you out of bed the mornings you are feeling lazy. This stage of mutual fulfillment is where we need to get to with our dogs, and it is just a few weeks away.
The first run, however, needs to be slow and steady. You need to watch your pace, distance, and your dog’s responsiveness. Keep your eyes on your dog occasionally, to make sure she is having a good time and not too exhausted. A good way to do this is to start with power walks and throw in some short jogging sessions. Naturally, your dog would be inquisitive and maybe slightly confused as to what is going on.
Your dog will have a good time doing it, but give her some treats when you break so she knows she is doing what you would like her to. Do this walk-jog routine a couple of times, before you move on to a full run.
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Getting Ready For Take-Off
The first few times you run, try, and choose a surface that won’t be too tasking on your dog. Remember, that though you are wearing shoes, your dog isn’t. The constant pounding can make her paw sore, so opt for grass, sand or whatever another mild surface you can find.
Now, the question of distance and time. A first real run of ten (10) minutes is plenty. While this isn’t particularly challenging, it is a trial not just for your dog, but for you as well. This short-run will allow your dog time to adapt to jogging. It will also enable you to get used to running while holding a leash and a bunch of other gadgets.
Yes, I know your dog is super and it can run until it finds the bottom of a rainbow, but this is exercise, not fun, thus if you do too much too soon, your dog will hate jogging. Therefore, even with a 10-minute run, try and have a break after 5 minutes. Watch to make sure your dog isn’t panting too heavily – with its tongue dangling out of its mouth. That would be a sign of extreme thirst or fatigue. When the run is over, you still want your dog chirpy.
Besides a short distance, a manageable pace is also important. Keep a pace that allows your dog to stay by your side or at most a step behind. If you notice your dog lagging behind, it means you are pushing too fast. On the other hand, your dog could be the one trying to go too far ahead, but don’t let her intimidate you into going too fast.
It is important with any that as you train your dog to run with you, that you do it gradually. Take your time to enforce each lesson before you move on to the next one. Run with your dog every other day, to begin with, or three times a week. After the first week, you can add 5 minutes to your running time and see how she keeps up. If this goes well, add another 5 minutes the week after that.
After each run, inspect your dog’s paws for signs of tenderness. If you are running under trees, inspect her fur for insects, twigs, and other unwanted items. Also, don’t forget to dry her body with a soft towel when done. For the winter runners, you might want to use a coat or sweater for short-haired dogs.
Once your dog has cooled down, give her something to eat. Don’t forget to take water breaks as often as needed. Keep this up for a few months and soon, you’ll have a dog that will challenge you to new heights of fitness and maybe even a gold medal in the marathon.
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