Dogs make great running partners! They're enthusiastic and motivated, and they act as a good reminder that you need to get out there and get moving. But the thing is … not all dogs are super ready to run with you, in particular because of all the awesome smells along trails that they’ll stop to check every few feet; or just because they’re not mature and focused enough to be a reliable running partner. So here are a few sure tips I learned along the way to get Fido ready to hit the ground running with you!
The basic training
First of all, you should understand a little more about your dog’s breed before you run with them. For example, Labradors will have hip issues as they age, so you might want to think about running daily 10Ks with them, maybe think about walking more and running every week instead. In addition, if your dog is too old or too young they might not be able to handle your running program – in fact, if your dog is younger than 18 months you should stick to walking, as puppies’ bones are still developing up to 18 months old and running may have an impact optimal long-term physical integrity. By the way, walking with your young doggo will help built a solid base for a future running program with you. If you’re in doubt, you should go to your vet and ask them all the questions about running with your dog – better be safe with their health than sorry later.
For dogs that are 18 months or older, and if your dog is new to running, I would suggest starting slow and build your mileage together, instead of setting out for a 5-mile run right away.
How far to run?
I’d start with a 10-minute run (you can complete your trail by walking it) and then add 10 minutes each week until you reach your satisfactory training distance. With time, your dog will adapt to your pace. I would also suggest to first alternate walking your trail when your dog can sniff everywhere and mark his territory and run for 10 minutes when no stops are allowed – just be persistent, this is really easier said than done! Just remember that your dog doesn’t know how to be a runner – so it’s your job to teach them, and only with your patience (and also I found that rewards do work here) and time, the two of you will be running side by side at your good pace.
And then there is the leash: first and foremost, use a harness. Leashes connected to a collar are barbaric. Second, basically, if your dog already walks nicely, you’ll transition to running with no problemo. But if your dog pulls then this can become challenging: a thing to do that seems to work in this case is to shorten the leash in order to let your dog be exactly by your side.
5K or 10K training with your doggo
Before you start anything, if you don’t already know it, try to figure out your average mile time, you’ll get this from any app like Nike Run Club or your apple watch fitness tracking app.
Once you have a comfortable pace, take that time and multiply it by the miles to get your run time for a 5K (3.1 miles) or 10K, (6.2 miles). Example: 11-minute mile x 3.1 miles = 34.1 minutes
Begin running with your dog 10 minutes every other day for a week. Then, the next week add another 10 minutes to your running time. Continue training every other day. The third week add another 10 minutes. The fourth week add another. Continue this process until you reach your projected time. Once you reach your projected time, keep running with your dog.
It will take time and patience to get your pup ready, but with a little guidance and practice you'll end up with one of the best running partners ev-er! Good luck and send me pics and vids!
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