Is your dog an energetic pup who loves to wreak havoc in your home? Do you want to turn this energy into something more positive? Do you want to train your dog to run with you?
Running is a fun way to practice with your dog and spend time with it. Plus, it is an excellent way for your dog to build her confidence and expend her energy. Here are some tips and tricks to train her.
Things to consider
Before you start the training, here are some things to consider.
Some dogs are bred for long-distance runs while others can handle only short sprints. Brachycephalic species such as Bulldogs and Pugs can do short sprint only because of their bodies ‘ limitations.
Meanwhile, some of the best breeds for running are the following:
- American Staffordshire Terriers – have the muscles, agility, and stamina for miles of jogging;
- Australian Cattle Dogs – these are traditionally used in farms to run after cows (or humans);
- Labrador Retrievers – can do sprints or long-distance running;
- Boxers – in the past, these puppies have been used as messengers and hunters, so their DNA is used to running;
- Brittany Spaniels – need a lot of exercises, so a simple walk is not enough for these energetic dogs;
- German Shorthaired Pointers – have a lot of stamina and their muscle legs and lean builds can run long distances;
- Siberian Huskies – there’s a good reason why Huskies are the best sled dogs, even during snowstorms they love to run;
- English Setters – can run up to four to six miles since they used to be farm dogs in the past;
- Belgian Shepherds – also have great endurance so they can go far with slow runs;
- Poodles – although these dogs are mostly pageant-dogs, they still have the athletic ability to run over several miles in a long but slow run;
- Jack Russell Terriers – have a ton of energy and can run for long periods, making them ideal for long-distance dog-style marathons;
- Airedale Terriers – can ideally run for 10 kilometers or less even in hot places;
- Vizslas – these are super athletic and sleek dogs bred for speed and endurance;
- Alaskan Malamutes – like the Siberian Huskies, these are long distances running even in cold climates;
- Dalmatians – can keep pace even with horses so it will not be hard for them to keep pace with you;
- German Shepherd Dogs – these are seasoned strong runners, so many of them work as police dogs;
- Australian Shepherds – by nature, these dogs are farm dogs and herd dogs so that if necessary, they can run for a whole day;
- Border Collies – they are very agile dogs, traditionally also herding dogs, so running can keep them busy with “work”;
- Weimaraners – are sprinters but can also do slow, long-distance runs;
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks – they were bred in Africa to hunt and kill lions so they can sprint, and they are best suited for long-distance “hunts.”
Very young puppies are still developing their bodies. Before she can use them for long runs, her bones and ligaments must be fully developed. She might be vulnerable to injury if she puts too much pressure on her bones and ligaments. She might have a muscle fracture or pull.
In general, wait until your dog is about 1 1/2 years old. Her bones will already be fully developed by this time.
Each dog is unique. Some dogs like to run. Others, not so much.
Consider the temperament of your dog before training. Try not to force her to do something that she doesn’t like. It would be counterproductive to force her. She might be traumatized by her training rather than building her confidence.
Choose a path that is perfect for your dog’s paws. Choose paths that will not have pebbles or anything that might hurt her paws or injure her.
Train Your Dog To Run Beside You
1. Train your dog to walk on a leash while she’s growing up and not yet ready to run. Make sure she’s learning not to pull her leash and stay with you all the time.
Leash pulling during a walk is frustrating. But during a run, it can be dangerous. Remember, you’re moving at high speed with your dog. But during your outdoor trips, a lot of things will distract your dog. A cute squirrel. A disgusting cat. Your dog may run after another animal, leading you to oncoming traffic.
If she pulls at her leash and then suddenly stops, you and she might get into an accident. You might get tangled in the leash, bump against things, or even fall on your faces. If she weaves around, she might also clip the heels of other runners and trip them up.
Put a short leash on her at the beginning so she won’t stray away from you. When she walks with you calmly, reward her with a treat. If she’s trying to pull on the leash, don’t walk, so she knows it’s not good behavior. You can start walking again if she stays by your side.
Train your dog to stay on one side. Pick one side and train her to stay there. Do not change to the other side because you will confuse her.
Give her treats using the side you’ve chosen to train her to do this. For example, when she walks or sits on your left leg if you choose the left side, give her treats. Also, give the treat to your left side.
You can also train her to go to your chosen side by creating a cue. This could be by pointing to your left or by saying the word “left.”
2. Bring your dog to the vet for an exam. If your dog is ready for a serious run, your vet will be able to tell you. The diagnosis will take into account the breed, age, and fitness level of your dog.
3. Train your pet to follow speed signs or commands when she’s ready and your vet has given your dog a clean health bill. Slowly amplify the speed. Don’t get her to follow a full sprint command from the beginning. Remember that running on command is something new for her, even if your dog is hyper.
Finish by first teaching her to “jog.” Follow this with the usual “roll.” Say the command, then raise your walking speed. Let her take a few steps to catch up with you and you. Reduce speed by saying “whoa” or “walk” to another command.
Let her spend a couple of days getting used to this new speed. Let her remember her leash training even as you jog. If she pulls, quickly decrease your speed and stop.
4. When you know she is comfortable with the jogging speed, you can add “run” as the command for a full sprint.
5. Keep the cues and speed consistent. You want your dog to respond to the right signal. Do not confuse her by giving inconsistent commands.
Reward your pet with a treat when she manages to keep to your side and match your pace.
6. Now that your dog knows the commands for various kinds of speed, begin to build her endurance and strength.
As always, do this slowly. Add brief jog bursts and go on your usual walk. Then increase the jogs and run as the walk parts are reduced. Before you can see some results, you’ll need several weeks.
7. Develop your dog’s running program. Set a weekly goal, it might be miles or minutes. Every week you can start with 10-minute runs and increase this as the strength and endurance build-up of your dog.
Run every other day when she is just starting so she has time to rest in between runs. Add the miles or minutes to see if you meet your weekly goals.
Always remember these tips to keep your dog primed and conditioned for each run:
- Just like humans, your dog needs to warm up before a rigorous exercise. She also needs to cool down afterwards.
Walk your dog slowly for five minutes to warm up and cool down. You can also make her go through a sit-lay down-sit-stand routine for a couple of minutes. This may be the equivalent of a push-up for your dog. Use treats to make your dog do some stretches to warm up or cool down her muscles.
- Always consider the weather when you go outside.
Your dog cannot handle heat or humidity as well as you can. So, during your runs, carry water for your dog. Do this even when it’s fine weather. Do not run, especially if you go over asphalt, during really hot weather. The heat could blister from the ground or even burn her paws.
On the flip side, rain or snow could be too cold for her paws as well. She might love playing in the snow but running for minutes through it might be too much for her.
You can play fetch indoors during the times when you can’t run, so your dog will still have some exercise. Build an obstacle course for your dog if you have some space. It doesn’t have to be a beautiful course. You can use your furniture, cardboard boxes, or toys as obstacles for your dog.
If you have a home gym, you can train your dog to use the treadmill. There are treadmills designed for pets. But a normal treadmill will do so long as the ramp is big enough to carry your dog.
You can also look for dog training facilities that offer indoor agility classes. You don’t need to register your dog in regular classes. You can go there when it’s needed.
- Take frequent water and pee breaks to let your dog recharge. Allow her to nose around and enjoy the surroundings during these breaks.
- Always take note of your dog’s behavior and body language during your run. Check if she is panting excessively or if she is lagging behind you.
The main way your dog can cool off is by panting. She’s still normal if she’s panting quietly and her tongue is inside her mouth. But if she’s panting wide open with her mouth and hanging her tongue from her mouth, she’s tired.
Your dog will sometimes try to keep running even if she cannot run anymore. She wants to please you so she will try to keep going even if her body hurts.
As her owner, it is up to you to ensure that she does not over-exert or push herself beyond her limits. If you see her panting too much, don’t make her go faster.
If after a few minutes of break, her panting doesn’t return to normal, then it’s time to stop running and cool down.
- If you want your dog to run without a leash, make sure the dog is fully trained and follows your instructions properly. Make sure the area is safe for a free run as well. Some areas also always require dogs on a leash, so keep in mind the rules.
Your dog can be the best running companion for you. But during the run, both of you should have fun. Be patient. Don’t force her if your dog isn’t inclined to run for long distances. But if she loves running, slowly train her. Soon she’s going to keep up with you on your regular jogs.