Your dog and you share a mutual love for running. She, with the heedless passion of a young hunter, and you, with the steady athleticism of long practice. Your dog has the potential to run for miles beside you, but you likely have a hard enough time walking her on leash. This may cause you to wonder if it would ever be possible for the two to run together as a team. The answer is yes. With patience and consistency, your dog can be taught to run apace with you, so long as you remember to be considerate of her limitations.
When To Start Running
Canine bodies keep growing and developing for the first two years of their lives. Regular runs with a young dog can damage their joints and impede their natural growth. While the age differs from breed to breed, it’s advisable to wait until your dog is 18 months or older, before starting her on a runner’s regime. Ask your vet if your dog is ready and have her checked up before you begin training.
Before You Run
She must be taught how to walk well on a leash. Your dog may be in the habit of stopping every few feet to smell the ground and mark trees on walks, but this behavior cannot be allowed during your runs with her. Most pet parents put up with the willfulness of their dogs, all their lives because they understand that a walk is for the dog’s benefit and they want them to enjoy that time. This is a good way of thinking since your dog doesn’t need to heel for the entire length of your walks. However, you do need a dog who stays by your side for the most parts and isn’t in the habit of pulling you abruptly from the path, in pursuit of an interesting distraction.
Teach your dog to stick by your side on brisk walks before you go running. Spend the first week or more luring her back to your side with treats and short burst of jogging to keep her focus on you. Make it fun for her to stay close to you whenever you pick up your pace. Don’t punish her for getting distracted, instead work on gaining her attention back. This can take a few weeks or just a few days to start showing results during your walks.
Your dog won’t have the endurance to keep up with you on a 5K run, right off the bat. Don’t start her training during your usual runs: her pace will interfere with your own, and she won’t get the attention she deserves from you at this point. The best thing to do is to finish your own run, and then take your dog out for a short and pleasant jog.
During the first two weeks, focus on just getting her to keep pace with you. Walk at her usual speed and mix that with short bursts of jogging. Once she gets the hang of it, she’ll begin to anticipate your increase in speed. During a half hour training period, walk for twenty and run for ten. This is the first step to building your dog’s endurance.
In the third week, add another ten minutes of running. So, walk for ten and run for twenty. After this, keep adding ten minutes of runtime to your dog’s routine every week, until she catches up with the length of your daily runs.
Things To Keep In Mind
Don’t overdo it – for yourself or your dog. While initially, you finish your own run and then train your dog, decrease your solo run-times as she gains more endurance. Don’t expect her to run at the same speed as you. As her bones and muscles grow used to this form of exercise, she’ll determine a comfortable pace for herself, until you can both run seamlessly together.
Exhaustion is often a crucial worry for runners, and it’s even more pertinent in dogs, who get overheated easily. Always carry water during runs, and give your dog as many water breaks as you take. Since dogs don’t sweat, keep your eyes on how much she’s panting. That’s a good indicator for you to stop and give her time to recover.
The joy of running is enhanced with the right company. With a few months’ work, your canine friend can become the best running buddy you’ve ever had. Don’t give up!