It is no surprise that I am a runner. But, believe it or not, my personal dogs have always hated running! Sure they love to swim, play tug-of-war, and chase a ball in the park…but running in a controlled fashion on a leash…forget it!
Dr. T after the Sea Wheeze Half Marathon, Vancouver 2014-the only thing missing at the finish line was a dog at the end of a leash <3
Recently I have made the big decision to get a puppy. Yup, you’ve read that correctly! After over 9 months of research and countless back and forth, I have committed to a male black labrador puppy. He will be ready to come home with me after the new year. Now that may seem a long time away, however I have already started to brainstorm ways to get my “new bestie” to run with me! Here are some tips I’ve come up with so far. Please feel free to leave comments and other ideas! I would love to hear what you all think!
CHOOSING A “RUNNING” BREED
Not all of us are naturally born to run. However, there are many dog breeds that are! Here are a few breeds I believe would make phenomenal running companions: Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Greyhounds, Viszlas, Pitbull/Pittbull mixes, Dobermans, Standard Poodles, and any medium-large mix breed dog. I do not recommend running with toy breed dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzu etc. I also do not recommend running with brachycephalic breeds of dogs (aka: dogs with short muzzles) such as Pugs, English/French Bulldogs or extremely large breeds such as Great Danes and Mastiff breeds.
Please don’t misunderstand, just because I have a list of recommended “natural born running breeds,” it doesn’t mean that the occasional Boxer and small Terrier won’t make a great running buddy…every now and then a certain breed will surprise me and make a great running buddy! Each dog is different and I am a firm believer in not forcing a dog to run if they aren’t quite into it.
TRAINING FOR A LEASH RUN
I wouldn’t expect your dog to just know how to run on a leash. Leash training a dog, especially a puppy, can be challenging. I recommend making sure your puppy/dog is very well socialized and used to walking right next to you ona leash prior to starting a running routine. I also recommend that you run with your dog on a harness rather than a leash and collar. Excessive pull on the neck region (cervical spine) can lead to many problems in the future.
During your run, you want to ensure that the leash is kept somewhat loose but that your dog is right by your side. I do not recommend running with your dog’s leash around your waist. If he/she is startled or becomes excited about a new smell, they can easily pull you down and all control is lost. Having the leash in your hand with a firm grip is best.
TRAINING IS KEY!
Would you go out and run a half marathon for your first run? Probably not! Please don’t expect your dog to be able to do an endurance run on the first try. Even though your pup may seem full of energy and can play for hours in the park, running at a consistent pace for a prolonged period of time can take a toll on your pooch. Its important to build up mileage just as you would for yourself. I recommend starting with a 1-2 mile run at a pace that is comfortable for you both. Make sure your pup can stay with you at whatever pace you choose. If you notice them slowing down, consider stopping for a bit and walking the rest of the way.
**Please stay tuned for a specific pooch-in-training running schedule! I will be formulating a step-by-step pooch in training plan over the next few weeks. Just in time for the fabulous fall weather!
SNACKS AND HYDRATION!
I recommend carrying a bottle of water on a running belt around your waist for your pooch. It is also a good idea to keep a few tiny healthy treats in the event your running buddy gets distracted. Many pet stores carry small collapsable bowls that you can also attach to your belt.
WATCH WHERE YOU STEP!
Even though your furry buddy has really thick paw pads, they are no replacement for rubber soled sneakers! Please be careful running with your dog on rough payment, trails filled with sharp rocks or streets where there may be broken glass. I recommend packed dirt paths or white concrete when training your pooch pace along your side. Remember: Black top can get hot! If your dog starts to limp or appears painful on their feet, stop and go home!
As mentioned above…please stay tuned for more doggie running tips. I will be expanding this part of my blog over the next several weeks to months. Hopefully you and your pooch will follow along and create a regime that works best for you! Dogs really do make the best Co-Pilots 😉
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