Running With Your Dog Part 1: Training your Dog to Run!

Disclosure – Kurgo sent me a few products to review for this series on running with your dog.  All opinions and photos are my own and all content in the series is my honest opinion. I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC Guidelines. Please see Ts and Cs tab for more information.

Running with your Dog: Teaching them how to run with you! Many of you know that I run with my dog George as much as I can. Not only does it make him happy and a better behaved dog, but he’s a great running partner and really knows how to push my pace. We do have 2 dogs, but Sophie doesn’t enjoy running like George does, she’s more into walking. Kurgo emailed me about talking to their vet and doing a short series on my blog for those who want to run with their dogs!

The Kurgo Leash! A great handsfree leash to run with your dogIt’s a great way for your dog to release some energy and stay healthy. George is a rescue and many think he’s a mix of a whippet, boxer, pitbull and terrier. We really have no idea, but he’s a very fast runner, and as soon as the leash comes out he knows it’s time to go! George can run around 13 miles. If you’re planning on running with your dog, you want to make sure you’re increasing their mileage properly. I asked Kurgo’s veterinarian on staff, Dr. Susan O’Dell, a few common questions I get about running with George and how I got him to safely run consistently.

George on a Run ~ Running with your dog can be easy and fun, you just have to train them to run with you!1. How does a dog’s body respond to increasing mileage? How do you train a dog to start running ‘longer mileage’?

Dogs will have some of the same physiologic changes that are seen with human endurance athletes. The size of the heart increases in response to physical training. We also see a decreased heart rate when the dog is at rest. It’s also important to get the final ‘okay’ from a vet before training your dog to run with you, running consistently with puppies can hurt their growth and joints.

When you start distance training remember to start slowly. Begin each session with a warm up of 5 minutes. This can help prevent injuries and prime your dog’s muscles with increased blood flow and oxygen for the run. The main work out should be no more than 2-3 miles in length at first. Follow this up with a cool down to return blood pressure and flow back to normal gradually.

There is no specific protocol for increasing weekly mileage with your dog. Dr. O’Dell recommends listening to your dog and watching their signs. If you run the same distance repeatedly and your dog is finishing happily with energy to spare, you can increase your mileage the next week. Increase your mileage by 1 mile a week to see how they respond. Watch for these signs that you are pushing your too hard: running behind you, panting with tongue hanging far out of his mouth, sides of his mouth pulled far back, lying down if you stop. If you see these signs from your dog, it’s time to head back home!

Don’t forget to give your dog a recovery day. Just like a human, they need to rest. A good schedule might be running every other day, or two days of exercise followed by a day off.

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2. If your dog has not ever ‘run’ next to you, what is the best way to introduce them to the leash and running in a straight line, instead of jumping/weaving?

Personally, for George it took well over a month to learn how to run out in front of me. He does still pull A LOT and he pulls from side to side at bikes, skateboards and other animals, so I’m always extra aware of my surroundings and I never run with music when I’m running with him.

Dr. O’Dell had some tips to help reach the final goal of a refined running dog. You must begin with a well-behaved walker. (This is probably where I’ve failed with George…) Traditionally, dogs are taught to heel on the left. You can choose which side you would like him to stay on, just be consistent! Start training with a short 4-6 foot leash or a hands free leash. Bring treats for a reward. Have him sit next to you and give several treats to get his focus. Start walking briskly and allow him to walk along. If he walks next to you, offer him treats as a reward.

If his paws pass in front of your feet, immediately stop walking and hold the leash with elbows at your sides. He may attempt to keep walking and pull on the leash, but hold steady. After he gives up, call him to come and sit in front of you. Again, give several treats in succession until you have his focus, then begin a brisk walk again. Repeat until your walk/training session is over. This may take some time for him to master, be patient!

If you have a relentless puller, you can try using a harness and attaching the leash to the front D-Ring (on all Kurgo Harnesses) which will prevent him from pulling. This is what I have started using on George and it helps a lot. Once they are a a reliable walker, it’s time to start trying to run! Start by adding short periods of running to your walks (about a block at a time). Find a short route to practice your walks and walk/jogs. Use the same familiar route each time so they can concentrate on training with you, instead of stopping for smelling. Continue using the same techniques as you did on the walks. If he can stay at your side during your short jogs, he can graduate to running with you.

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3. What breeds are known for endurance running?

Some great breeds for endurance include the Herding Breeds like the Border Collie and German Shepherd. Mushers like the Husky and Alaskan Malamute were also bred to run long distances. Weimeraners and German Shorthair Pointers are also excellent choices for running.

Remember, you can find ALL BREEDS AND ALL AGES of dogs at local animal shelters and rescue groups. Please save a life and adopt a pet instead of buying from a breeder. Both our dogs were homeless and we couldn’t have asked for better additions to our family!

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I’ve personally been running with the Kurgo Quantum Leash since I got it and I LOVE IT! It makes running with George so much easier and my arms are much less sore. He does pull a lot so it allows my arms to do a normal running motion, which I like. If he does pull in either direction, I can easily just grab the leash and straighten him right out. I also really appreciate the padded part of the leash, so it doesn’t dig into my back at all, and it has a weight resistance of 550 pounds. It’s made running with him so much easier and I’m so thankful I finally tried it out. I never thought I would be running with him as much as I am lately because my arms used to hurt so much and I would almost trip over the old leash we used to run with.

Kurgo Leash Review - Run safely with your dogs hands free!

xoxo

Dr. Susan O’Dell, DVM, grew up in Michigan, where she received her Bachelors Degree in biology at the University of Michigan and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Since her graduation, she has been practicing at animal hospitals across New England with a particular focus on educating small animal clients.

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13 Responses to Running With Your Dog Part 1: Training your Dog to Run!

  1. Christine says:

    Your dog looks so happy! Must be the runner’s high :)

  2. I run with my Weimaraner. Years ago, when we started running together she’d pull, but then I got a Gentle Leader collar and she learned not to pull. She loves to run.

  3. Kris says:

    My Vizsla loves to run but she runs/wants to run so much faster than me. Sometimes I have to leave her at home because I’m just not up for the pull. She gets such a sad face when I leave without her :( I have a Gentle Leader collar and should really put that to use! The runs would probably be much more enjoyable for both of us!
    We have some great trails nearby so I let her off her leash on those. She is in such heaven on those days! She’ll do double what I do. I love watching her run and jump and leap!

  4. Caitlin says:

    Hi!
    I just discovered your blog & instagram a few days ago. Let me tell you…you now have a avid reader!! You’re such a fantastic inspiration! I’m training for my 1st 1/2 Marathon in April and hopefully (crossing my fingers) I magically get into the Chicago Marathon with an open lottery entry! It will be my first one. Your blog is SUCH a wealth of knowlege, inspiration, and humor. I love it & just had to share!

    Happy Running!!

  5. Lady ID says:

    I don’t run with my dog but I should. I found it a bit trying to keep her focused but I think it was my inconsistency because she’s not a crazy dog. Also with longer mileage I worried about keeping her hydrated.

    I think harnesses are great. This sounds like a good one to try with the D-Ring in front.

  6. Thanks for the great info. We just got a puppy and I’m excited to start taking him on runs with me. He’s not a very good walker yet. I think these tips will definitely help.

  7. Kandace says:

    Chris – I have 2 Vizslas and one is taught to heel and will run perfect. My other one is 10 months and still nutty. I use the Sensational harness on her which clips in front of her chest and then a hands-free (I like Buddy System) around waist with a bungee effect so when they pull, it doesn’t pull on you as much. I am going to look into this Kurgo leash too.

    I don’t think I would run with my dogs without hands-free leash system and the bungee leash. Hiking and running are so much more fun now!

  8. Hey! Your dog isn’t very big, a little bigger than mine. I always thought I needed a big dog for running! Now mine is too old and has arthritis, but maybe someday…

  9. Carla says:

    LOVE THIS and how we are on JUST THE SAME WAVELENGTH today too.

  10. max says:

    I have a Vizsla. She always runs with me. Last saturday I ran the Northumberland ultra trail. I picked her up at 25K and we finished tohether at the 57K point. Effortless 22 miler for her. No leash, just well trained :-)

  11. Katie Rogow says:

    I’ve been running with dogs since 1991 and what a journey that has been. Some pull hard; others stay by my hips on one side or the other, especially if I reinforce it. I don’t really care where my dogs are relative to my body as long as they aren’t right in front of me. I use 4′ leather leashes and control lunging (the hard pulling) with either a Gentle Leader or Halti Head Collar. Here’s what I’ve learned in 2 decades of running with dogs:
    1) When I’m out with my dogs, I’m a handler first and a runner second. Real-life example: My border collie is dog-dog reactive on leash. After years of operant conditioning, he’s 98% better, but I still pull over and treat heavily when I see other dogs that might push him into an outburst. If I don’t want to deal with picking up poop, sniff and peemail stops, reactivity or pulling, I leave the dogs at home.
    2) When I run in areas that requires dogs to be leashed, the leashes stay on. I consider leashes a major safety tool, especially because I can’t control an unleashed dog. I don’t want other dogs running up to my border collie if he’s on leash and I certainly don’t want another dog to attack us, trip us or provoke a fight. I also want to make sure my dogs don’t run into traffic, trip someone else, encounter rattlesnakes, provoke a fight, etc.
    3) I always pick up the poop if I can find it. It can be a challenge in off-leash areas!
    Recommended reading on dog training and dog behavior: Anything by Patricia McConnell, but especially “The other end of the Leash”. Recommended DVDs: Anything by Patricia McConnell, Leslie McDevitt’s “Control Unleashed” (really good if your dog is reactive like my border collie), “Calming Signals” by Turid Rugaas, “Foundation Work” by Deborah Jones and Judy Keller, published by Clean Run Productions, LLC, and “The Shape of Bow Wow: Shaping Behaviors and Adding Cues” by North Star Canines & Co.
    Go dogs!

  12. George Godin says:

    Hello there!

    I believe that it is really nice to run with a dog. You are so lucky to have a dog like George. We actually do have the same name :)

  13. Pingback: Running With Your Dog | DoomBuggy Runner

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