Running with your dog is mutually beneficial, it gives you a bit of motivation, bonding time and something that you can both look forward to. However, not all dogs are cut out to run multiple miles at once but with a little training, they can learn to be great running partners. This article covers how you can train your dog to run with you.
Basic Training Tips for Running with Your Dog
Before, you start running with your dog, ensure that he is healthy and ready to run. Dogs that are too young or too old may be unable to run. This is because the bones of dogs that are younger bones are still developing and running can impact this development hence should stick to walking alone. Walking with a young dog will help to build a strong base for a future running program.
Dogs over 18 months should start running short distances and slowly build the mileage. Consistency with time is the best approach.
In case you are not sure if your dog is fit to run, check with your veterinarian to get advice on what is safe for your dog in your surroundings.
Teach your dog to run on a loose leash.
Running with your dog is easier if he can run beside you. If your dog knows how to walk off the leash beside you, then you can easily train him to run by increasing the speed gradually.
If he does not know how to walk near you, begin by training him when on leash then progress to running and finally take the leash.
Here is how to do it:
When training your dog to run near you off the leash, bring about 100 treats and a clicker. Decide the side of your body you want your dog to run then when standing, click and treat him every time he stands on that side. It does not matter if he is a little behind you or in front of you.
Then take a few steps forward, click and treat him again if he stays on the desired side. Increase the number of steps gradually and continue rewarding him.
Once the dogs is accustomed to walking beside you, start running slowly and continue treating with each right step. Once the dog is able to run beside you, reduce the clicking and treating. Over time and with practice, you can decrease the treats and clicks per run entirely.
Do not skip a warm up
Before you begin any workout, give yourself and your dog a few minutes of slow jogging or walking to protect the muscles against injury.
Start running slowly and condition your dog properly.
Similar to people, dogs should build endurance and strength gradually. Begin by walking with your dog for a short distance then run for about 15 seconds then walk again for a short while. Then increase the running segments gradually and shorten the walking segments and finally remove the walking segments completely.
Ensure that you give your dog a walk break at least after every 20 minutes and always end every run with a few minutes walking.
To prevent an injury, you should not rush through the conditioning process, introduce your dog gradually. It also gives the dog time to adjust mentally to the new routine so that you can both have fun.
Teach your dog cues for walking and running.
It is easier to speed up to a run or slow down to walking if your dog knows what you are doing. Use the same cues when transitioning between walking and running like let’s walk’ and we are running’ so that your dog can get accustomed to them.
Does your dog need to go for some walks first? Getting someone who has a dog walking or dog boarding business to work out your dog a little first can often help get your pooch in basic shape to get running eventually.
Have a plan for dealing with distractions.r
When running, there are likely to be multiple distractions such as other dogs and squirrels. You should have a way of dealing with these situations like using cues to remind the dog that you are running. For some distractions, you may need to increase your distance from them by moving away or treating your dog to get his mind back on the run.
Runners World has a whole section dedicated to running with your dog