Today I am sharing a very special blog post that I am writing with fellow blogger, Melissa who is over at runspirationsbymelissa.com. Today we are talking about how to get your pup better trained running on a leash with you, and some tips and tricks to keep their health during exercise in tip top shape. Although this is an unusual blog post to me, this topical is very near and dear to my heart! Being an animal lover and a mommy to 2 boxer puppies I try to do all the research I can to keep them healthy and running is something I have done with my older boxer since he was pretty young. Fitness is also crucial to living a healthy lifestyle, so why not share a pet friendly and fitness post with everyone??! I hope you enjoy. Melissa is going to start us off by talking about ways to improve the quality of your runs with your pup.
How many of you run with your four legged running buddy? Do you enjoy it, or is your pal a naughty little runner? I run with our youngest yellow lab, Drake. He just turned one, so he is full of energy and excitement. He loves to run! I have been taking him with me on three and four miles runs this year, and the results are twofold. One, when I run with him my pace increases, and I can finish a 5K three to four minutes faster than I normally would because he is a speed demon. He has made me focus on more endurance, and I love that. The second result is not so appealing. Because Drake loves to run so much, he gets a little carried away with the pulling and the tugging. By the end of the three miles, my arms hurt from holding him back. This really isn’t enjoyable for me, and I highly doubt he enjoys being tugged at so much. I have been trying to figure out what the answer is to make him behave. Is there an answer? Hopefully I am not the only person with an unruly running Labrador. Yes, I have heard that I need to teach him to heel, buy this collar, buy that collar, etc. I have gone through the gamete of different harnesses and collars, but I always end up using the pinch collar, which doesn’t really work in the first place. He just gets so excited any command he has learned go out the door. Here is a photo of my little man after our last three mile run. It should be entitled happy tongues out Tuesday!
What’s a girl to do? So, like any other normal human, I took to Google. I decided that there may be others out there who may have the same problems I do, and I thought I would share my findings just in case anyone is in need of a doggie intervention. There are tons of articles, and even an article in Runner’s World magazine. Here is a link to the Runner’s World article, http://www.runnersworld.com/running-with-dogs/turn-your-dog-into-a-runner. It is informative, but it doesn’t really get down to my problem. So, I kept on searching. I came across an article written by a veterinarian that may be of help. Some of the key tips are as follows:
1) First you need to pick which side of you the dog will run on. For me Drake runs in front of me, or I make him go on the left so I am between him and any possible traffic or people on the sidewalk;
2) Once the side is established, you are supposed to teach your dog to walk nicely on a leash. This can be done with treats. OF COURSE, why didn’t I think of that? Have the dog sit by your side on his leash, which should be a four to six foot leash. While your dog is sitting by your side start giving him a few pieces of treats until he understands he is supposed to stay seated until you tell him he can move;
3) The next step is to start walking briskly so he knows to come with you. If he gets ahead of you stop immediately and make him sit. If he is walking next to you, reward him with treats. Let’s face it, Drake won’t be walking next to me, he’ll be off like a shot. For the naughty little runners, continue to make him sit, rewarding him with treats, and then start off on a brisk walk again. Continue this process until the dog understands what is happening, and obeys. Then move into jogging and running using the same concept. I may be doing this for a few hours;
4) The article goes on to explain what he calls a U-turn. The author explains the U-turn as follows:
“With an about-turn, you walk forward on a straight line, turn 180ª towards your right so that the dog is on the outside, and the head back on the same line. Use this randomly as well as when the dog starts to get even one foot ahead of yours. When you turn, you can make it more fun for Fido by jogging a few steps and then rewarding him with a treat when he catches up and looks at you while continuing to walk.”
“The U turn is like the about-turn but in the opposite direction. You turn to your left in order to head back the direction you started. That means your dog will be on the inside of the turn which means you’ll have to be slightly ahead of him and then cut him off as you make your “U turn.” This teaches him that he should stay by your side so that you don’t keep cutting him off. If you have problems getting around your dog, you can place your hand with a treat right in front of his nose so that he stops to eat the treat, then you’ll complete your U turn while you have him stationary and then head in the new direction.”
See http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/running-with-your-dog-how-to-train-fido-to-run-at-your-side at ¶s 5 and 6.
This all sounds extremely complicated, and like I would wind up flat on my face from being tripped by the leash! Not to mention, this is probably not something you want to try when you are out for a training run. So, with this information, I think my plan is to cut up some Pupperoni treats and see what I can get my little naughty runner to do. If he gets what he is supposed to do, I may incorporate the U-turns, but let’s just take one step at a time. I will report back my findings as soon as I try it out. Stay tuned for part two of this topic coming in the near future.
Now, I also thought it would be a good idea to give everyone some tips and tricks for running with your dog as far as their health is concerned. Today I am guest blogging with Rebecca Jacobs, and she will give us some tips and tricks for running with your dog. Her blog can be found at http://holisticbalancenutrition.co/. Check her out, and here she is discussing tips and tricks to running with your four legged friend!
If you are anything like me, your pup’s health is probably your number one concern! I started running with my boxer pup to help increase his activity level, and help him run off some of that energy that boxers notoriously have, and it actually turns out that he helped me increase my speed and distance!
Running with your pups can be a wonderful way to help include some extra exercise into their day, but there are definitely some things to watch out for when taking your pup along for your run.
Let’s first take a look at when you should start running with your four legged pal:
· Puppies should not join you on your runs until they have fully developed, and their bones stop growing. Running a puppy prematurely can lead to injury and permanent damage their joints.
· You can expect your small breed puppy to be ready for running at around nine months of age, and large breed pups at around 16 months. Waiting until they reach the age where their bones have stopped growing with ensure you are not putting them at risk of developing joint injuries.
· Even if your pup has reached the age where it is appropriate to start running, making sure he or she is in good health is extremely important. It wouldn’t hurt to check in with your Veterinarian to make sure he or she is fit enough to start exercising with you.
I have 2 crazy, loving boxers! My first boxer, Levi (now almost 5) started running with me when he was about a year and a half. Boxers are very large breeds, and he truly did not stop growing until almost 2 years old, so making sure his bones were fully developed before hitting the trails was crucial. I now have a 1 year old boxer pup as well, and soon enough he will be joining in on our runs…or maybe not both at once. They both love to pull so much so that as I said my runs are faster and longer when Levi comes along! With some of Melissa’s running tips I hope to change the pulling a little.
Here is a picture of my 2 fur babies, Levi is the dark brindle (Almost 5 years old) Tucker is the lighter brindle (1 years old)
How far should you go when first starting out?
· When you are first starting to run with you puppy, it is important to check with your Veterinarian to come up with an appropriate and safe mileage plan to get your doggie started. For a rough estimate, according to Sarah Wharton, owner of Marathon Dog Walking and Training in Oakland, California, the average dog can run anywhere between two and five miles. However each four legged pal is going to be a little different and the last thing you want to do is push your dog too hard. The best thing to do is ask your vet during their health visit.
Tips to keep your pup safe:
· Keep your dog lean: Even a little extra weight can be hard on their joints.
· During the early puppy months, focus on socializing your pup and starting basic training. Lots of distractions can pop up on runs such as people, other animals, cars, leaves, you name it. It will make things safer for you and your pup if they know basic commands and listen to you when called. Socialization can also help if you come across another runner or another animal. Having a well-mannered puppy with make your runs much nicer.
· Watch out for the hot pavement. The hot ground can burn your pup’s paws. The basic rule of thumb here is if the ground is too hot for you to touch then it is too hot for your dog to be out running with you. Strive to get the run in during the cooler parts of the day to prevent your pal from overheating.
· Always ensure that your pup has enough water breaks, especially during the warmer months. Making sure they are drinking enough water can help to prevent dehydration. Trying to train your dog to drink from a water bottle can also make these water breaks super quick and easy! Beware though, too much water can cause a dog to be predisposed to bloat, so again ask your Vet how much water is safe for your pup during a run.
· Sticking with the bloat topic, do not feed your directly prior to a run or right after. Doing this can also cause bloat. Think of it this way, us as humans wouldn’t eat a large meal before exercise so keep that in mind for your pup as well.
· Keep in mind that some breads enjoy short bursts of running while others are more fit for endurance running. Dogs that are fit for long runs such as 10 miles or more are breeds like Weimaraner’s, Germans Shorthaired Pointers, Golden Doodles, and Jack Russel Terriers. Brisk and slightly shorter runs under 10 miles are best for dogs such as Greyhounds, Pit Bulls, Beagles, Golden and Labrador Retrievers. Breeds that typically enjoy a fast paced run are breeds such as Greyhounds, and Whippets. Check out this link to see if your dogs breed is listed on the chart: http://www.runnersworld.com/running-with-dogs/top-running-dogs.
· As far as equipment goes for your pup, keeping it simple with a collar or harness. This is really all they need. Try to keep what they have to carry to a minimum meaning no backpacks, or anything strapped onto their harness. Having a dog carry something while running can lead to unnecessary injury.
· Avoid retractable leashes, these types of leashes won’t give you as much control as you need. The hands-free leashes that can clip around your waste can be convenient but only for very well trained pups. If running during dusk or dawn, having a leash or collar on your pup with flash lights or having them wear a reflective collar or harness can add some extra safety to your run.
· Running on trails and grass can be easier on your pup’s joints not to mention yours as well! Just be sure to apply flea and tick preventative on your pal!
· Speaking to your vet about join supplements for your pet can also be very beneficial to their joints especially after running! There are many different varieties out there, some in powdered form, capsule and even treats now. Speak with your vet to see what will work best for your four legged pal.
I hope that you have found this to be informative and helpful! Running with your puppy can be very healthy for not only them but you as well! What’s better than keeping you and your pup healthy while also enjoying the outdoors and some bonding time with you best bud? I can’t think of anything better! I will keep you updated on my runs with Levi & Tucker soon
…Happy running my friends!