Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to Run with Your Dog Part One: My running partners and your potential running partners

I know I did a blog post not to long ago about dog running accessories that you can catch up on here.  I don't think I ever really explained how to run with your dog or how to train a dog to not kill you while running with your dog.  Since I have a ton to say about these subjects, I am going to break these posts down into several parts.
Stella, Deuce and Stella's sis 7
I have had three very different running partners in Deuce, Stella and Harley.  All three were aussies but they all three have very different running styles as I like to call it.
Deuce is a sprinter and this is probably why he does so well in agility.  He is trained to go all out for 30-40 seconds with minimal stopping and then he is done.  It has been hard to teach him to pace like Stella.

Stella is a natural pacer.  She can go for miles and miles at the same speed and be happy.  She is a stronger bred herding dog that Deuce, so that also makes sense.  She was bred to work on a farm for hours on end, either in the field and or pen and have stamina to maintain this.  While she does gets in her moods and likes to pull when we are doing an out and back and are headed towards the house, she pretty much is an even keeled/paced dog.  She is perfect for other runners to borrow, and even my hubby loves running with her as well.  She prefers to be slightly ahead of you and will wear back and forth from left to right.  Deuce tends to be way out in front and will slip back to almost right in front of you or to your right as he tires.
Harley is a whole other story.  Harley has always been a marker.  Even though we neutered him before the age of 1, he has always wanted to mark on everything and this includes anything and everything during a run.  Add in that we commonly use a route that the humane society dogs are walked on and you get a nightmare for a run.  While I DO NOT advocate running a dog with a flexi lead, this has worked for making a run with Harley more enjoyable for both of us. I am super careful to keep it locked while in town and to keep the majority of our runs out of town where he can sniff and I can have the flexi lead unlocked and let him roam.  Now, I caution you on running with a flexi.  The thin flexi material can be dangerous and can cause a tripping hazard or burning hazard to you and your legs.  He is the ONLY dog I would trust to do this with as he doesn't take off suddenly so the risk of him pulling the flexi leash handle our of my hands is low.  You also run the risk of the dog running out to the end of the flexi and causing injury to their neck if on a collar or back/neck area if on harness.  This method worked for harley and I to have an enjoyable run, but is not a set up I would use for most dogs.  

All in all, dogs are like people, they have different personalities and different likes and dislikes.  I do believe that stella loves to work and running = work for her.  Deuce is more just a lover of me and if that means he has to run to be with me, he will do it  to be with me, but not necessarily enjoy running.  I take this into account and Deuce ONLY goes with us when the temperatures are not too hot and when we are running less than 5 miles.  Stella on the other hand goes on every run including speed work sessions (As long as they aren't on the track where dogs are not allowed) and long runs (unless I am running Konza where dogs are also NOT allowed).

There are tons of other breeds that also love to run including those in the herding and working groups.  I commonly get asked about how to pick out a running partner.  Quite frankly, I often advise to go to your local shelter and look.  If you get a puppy, you will need to wait at least a year or more before they are ready to run, and  run for long periods of time due to bone growth and development.  If you run a young dog on hard pavement or gravel for extended periods of time, you are asking for injuries.  Shoulder, elbow and hip problems all arise not only from genetics of certain breeds and lines, but also in dogs that are worked too early in their lives.  We see it in agility and you can certainly see it in dogs that were road worked at too young of an age.  I like getting shelter dogs because they are usually older (as in not puppies although you can find puppies at shelters from time to time).  Most shelters and rescue groups around here will let you try out a dog with your family in your home before making adoption final.  This is a great time to not only gauge how the dog will fit in with your family, but also to see if they will make great running partners.  Just know that it can take time for a dog to learn to run properly, as in not pull you around or constantly stop for sniffing.

There are tons of great articles out there about running with your dog and picking out a running partner of the canine persuasion.  Here is a list of some of my favorites!  Just click on the links and it will take you right to the article.

Runners World

To conclude, treat your dog like you treat yourself when training.  My dogs start our with me as I start a training cycle, and both dogs I currently work with have a base of miles built just like I do.  I keep my dogs well fed and well hydrated and monitor their weight closely.  If I see any stress in my dogs due to heat or mileage, I always have my cell phone with me during a run and can call my hubby to come and pick them up.  I carry water when it is hot and have a temp I will not take even stella out in.  Both dogs have cool coats that can be wetted to help with the cooling down process post run, and I will commonly put water on their bellies before running (as well as keep their bellies shaved since they are a long hair double coated breed).  I also monitor my dogs for stiffness or lameness and will take them to the chiropractor or canine massage specialist if needed.  I treat them as well as I treat myself because we are both athletes and I want us all to have long running lives!

No comments:

Post a Comment