‘Keeping fit with a dog as a companion’ sounds crazy, right? But that feeling is everything. Imagine that excitement that comes with you running with a dog, not only is it fun-filled but it motivating. This is not a post on exercise but I am sure you know how important canine fitness is to the body so I won’t go anyway further explaining what it means, decode that yourself and see the importance of training your dog to run with you. ‘How do people even train their dog to run with them in the first place’ yes! That was the first thing that came to my mind when I heard that for the first time so it won’t be surprising if you are wondering now. Dogs are special species, they learn fast and follow instructions strictly. The practice is meant to be easy and enjoyable when it is done with the right dog trainer. I am not saying you can’t do this yourself you definitely can but before you start training your dog you have to consider a few traits
IS THE DOG OF AGE AND THE RIGHT BREED?
This reminds me of an encounter, I adopted a four months old brachycephalic dog (those with short muzzles), like bulldogs about a year ago and my friend always says I should start taking him running with me, especially as I tend to take a walk every evening. However, the couple of times I tried it was a total disaster, he stops a few dozen it was indeed hard. A day came, as I was about to go for my normal routine with the dog a stranger walked up to me and gave me this shocking advice, he explained that training my puppy at that age is wrong and the breed I was taking for a long distance was might for a shorter one, it got done on me that I was only suffering myself and the innocent puppy. Two key points I would like you to extract from my story is this be aware that running is generally not safe for puppies, as their bones are still soft. For most breeds, wait until the dog is about 1year and 5months old. Secondly, dogs with short legs are not meant for a long-distance run
Even within breeds, each dog has its own unique personality, and some will run more than others. Consider your dog’s temperament, research their breed, and take them to the vet for a physical examination to make sure it is a safe activity for them.
WORK ON YOUR PATIENCE
Dogs are obedient, they listen if you are patient with them. So to be a good dog trainer you need to work on your endurance level this is not only for you, building that of your dog too is also vital to keep this practice going smoothly. As you need to slowly build your strength and endurance, so does your dog need to. Start by adding short stretches of running to your walks gradually
Then, on each subsequent walk, slowly increase the portion of your time spent running and reduce the portion spent walking. After some weeks watch your dog adapting to the system
TAKE THINGS SLOWLY WITH THEM
Yes, we all know dogs are smart, but they are not a machine. Just as you have blood running through your vein they do have to, so you need to treat them with consideration too. Teach them to walk before running, just like a child will crawl before standing then finally start walking the same scenario is applicable when taking a dog on a training. Don’t rush it, if it’s possible go through how to train a dog guide to put light into some things you don’t know about.
Take for instance your dog should practice the loose-leash walk before you start educating them on how to run alongside you. Remember dogs are very sensitive to smell and trust me that is inevitable, so if you want your dog to stay by you with the J-shaped, hanging leash you have to be equally ready. Use treats, toys, and compliments to help your dog keep the leash relaxed. Learn to teach your dog to maintain a single side when you start running together this will help a lot because putting them in or having them move from one side to the other might tangle or trip your legs. Whether it is the left or right it doesn’t matter just ensure you pick a particular side and stick with it. Always give your dog their treats in the position you want to reinforce, so if you want them on your right, only offer treats at your right leg. Once they’ve mastered one side, you can train the other with a different strategy.
HOW TO TEACH YOUR DOG TO RUN BY YOUR SIDE
Now that you are familiar with those things to look out for before taking your dog for running training, let me take you down this lay too, this is what I call dog training 101, it’s funny, I know just wanted to be sure you are following. At first, it might look tiring and frustrating but consistency conquers all.
Start with a hand free leash
It’s fine if you don’t know what a leash is, let me give a brief definition of that, a leash is simply a dog lead, the picture below says it all. With a hand-free leash such as the regular 4 to 6-foot leash that you hold by keeping your arms bent at your sides in a normal running position rather than extending your arms. To compliment that ensure you come along with a portion of your dog’s regular meal or small treats which you can carry in the easily accessible pouch. The leash should be long enough to hang in a “U” shape when standing next to your dog. Then start moving forward at a brisk pace so that he clearly understands that you want him to walk with you.
If he complies and looks at your face give him more food at the interval. When he reaches the end of the leash he will try to pull because it worked for him before but stay put he will later realize he’s not going anywhere. When he turns to look at you, pull him into a seat in front of you. Repeat this process each time he walks until he understands that moving forward requires you to stop and that sitting and watching you resume walking.
Work on your turnings
The next, is to work on is the about-turn and the “U-turns” this will help him stay by your side and reduce the amount of meal you carry about
Do this constantly as well as when the dog starts to get a step ahead of yours. When you turn, you can make it more fun for your dog by jogging a few steps forward and then giving him a treat when he catches up with you.
The U-turn is just like the about-turn but in the other direction. This indicates that your dog will be on the inside of the turn, which means you will need to be slightly ahead of him and then cut him off as you do your “U-turn.”
This will pass a signal to 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 a meal right in front of his nose so that he stops to get in the way then you’ll complete your U-turn while you have him stationed and then head in the new direction.
Now that you’ve known how to train your dog to run, with the trait you need to look at out for before taking your dog on a training let us go through some tips on how to make your dog training enjoyable.
TIPS OR STEPS ON HOW TO MAKE YOUR DOG TRAINING ENJOYABLE
This question might look rhetorical but I will like you to take out some time to answer them because it will help you get along with these steps well
The first question is this ‘have I ever enjoyed seeing dogs running before?’ the second question is this ‘‘what is so special about running with a dog?’’ and the last question ‘’will I ever enjoy my dog training session?’’. If you have answered those questions, then you deserve a big round of applause.
It is without a doubt that taking dog training lessons should be enjoyable, not a thing of regret or comes with pains, so going through this you have to first develop the mindset of ‘’owning the event’’ i.e. to enjoy the activities you must be in the activity. It sounds like a tautology, right? But it not, there is no better way I could have put the statement other than that. It simply means for you to be fulfilled when training with your dog you have to enjoy the process
Let’s dive into the tips together
#1 Don’t try to break a record
Training your dog should be what both of you enjoy doing, don’t be in a hurry. Cherish each moment and let them feel it too. If you are the type that aims at hitting the time quickly then it will not be advisable to get to the field with your pet. Remember, you will always pick up after them, and dogs love to stop and sniff a lot during walking which can be problematic if you are in a rush, especially if they are on a leash. You should be prepared to stop if need be. Don’t see this activity as a common dog training class instead see it as a healthy, enjoyable time out with your dog
#2 Don’t push them too hard
Be considerate, don’t be too hard on them. Have it in mind that dogs don’t sweat just like a human does they can only pant to show how tired they are and also a means to bring down their body temperature. Pushing them too hard might lead to difficulty in breathing or what is called hyperventilation, so let your dog stop when they want to they are not a robot. When they are tired let them be and don’t try to force it, you and your dog at that moment are the teams being able to read their body language makes you a good dog trainer you can also go through some self-dog training guide it will help too
#3 Start slowly
I repeat a dog is not a robot, take things easy with them, they are smart and listen to instructions strictly, that’s what makes them special. If you are looking at starting a running exercise with your dog don’t just clip on their lead tomorrow morning and take them to start running a marathon race with you, I am sure you will never choose to run again if someone does that to you. Dogs are like humans they need to train and work on their tolerance. Start by doing an easy mile walk with them and increase it to a longer distance if everything goes fine. Find a place that both of you enjoy going to and a distance that works for the both of you. There are many ways to adapt to make this work. For instance, if you do routine work daily from your house you can just take your dog for the first loop and then drop them off at home or better still pick them with you on your final laps to give you some motivation. Keep your dog training simple with that you and your dog will have a great time together.
#4 Step out with the right kits
When it comes to accessories there are quite a number of them you and your dog can wear to give maximum comfort. This decision is vital in the training process and the decision will depend on what makes you feel most comfortable using it. You might be saying it is not my kind of thing or it’s not the dog kind of thing, just make sure whatever you are using does not restrict any part of your dog’s natural movements as he runs. Collars can be tough on their neck, but some harnesses actually limit shoulder movement, so be sure to do your research on the best options for your running buddy.
#5 Let them flow at their own pace.
Why the rush, common to take it slow, one step at a time. They are smart that we know but allow them to explore too. If you are planning to pick up this training you need to first make sure your dogs can walk to heel. If this is not mastered before they start their running lessons it might affect their knees and even get worsen as the day goes by. Even if they are allowed or capable to work freely without a lead one still need to control them with a recall and ensure they stay close so as to keep an eye on them
#6 Is your dog suitable for this
Sure, this has been tackled earlier but let me throw more light on it. Consider the breed of your dog sounds extra but shouldn’t be overlooked. Some breeds like Huskies, Gundogs, Dalmatians, Golden Retrievers and Collies can make fantastic long-distance companions, but others are not so well adapted. You might assume that Greyhounds and Salukis would be the perfect running partners, but, as sprinters in the canine world, they’re actually better suitable for shorter distances. Unfortunately for brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds like Pugs, Frenchie’s, and Shih Tzu’s, it may be best to avoid running with them, especially in hot weather.
Your dog’s age and current state should not be left unchecked. As much as you may want to go for a walk with your new friend, it is not advisable to run with puppies as the growth plate on the tip of their bones is still growing, making them more prone to injury. Likewise, running may not be suitable for dogs with joint problems. If you are looking to have your dog run to help them lose weight, but they are suffering from these issues, it is worth checking with your vet first or starting with something that is gentler on their joints. (loobani)