After years and years of saying that I can't run due to bad knees, I decided to slowly start running using the Couch to 5K plan. I'm currently on week 2 and I can say that while it's hard, I love that I'm pushing myself to do it.
At the same time, I thought this would be a good time to kind of teach my Doxador, Gatsby, how to run. Gatsby is an inside dog. This is the dog who only goes outside to go to the bathroom and her idea of exercise is chasing the vacuum around the house. I'm serious, if she's outside and feels a drop of rain she will run to the door. So it's been interesting training her to run with me.
The first week was a disaster. We were both struggling and out of shape and I felt like I was dragging her halfway through. Gatsby also got frustrated and started trying to gnaw her leash off. She hadn't done that since she was a puppy and we were leash training her! I began wondering if I should even run with her at all. But that's when I read that 53 percent of dogs are overweight, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. And, just like humans, dogs need exercise to not only help with their physical health but with behavioral health as well.
I love my pup and want her to live a long and healthy life so I began to do some research. Below are some tips that I've found on different websites that have helped me train my dog to run with me.
1. Make sure your dog is healthy enough to run with you. ACTIVE says "Dogs that are too old or too young might not be able to handle a running program. In fact, dogs that are younger than 18 months should stick to walking. Puppies' bones are still developing up to 18 months old and running can impact the development of bones for optimal long-term physical integrity. Walking with a younger dog will help build a strong base for a future running program." Also make sure that you have cleared this with your vet and that your breed of dog is okay to run. Dachshund's typically don't need to run but since Gatsby is mixed with a black lab, then she was cleared to gradually start running.
2. Start slow. Each week in the Couch to 5K plan builds your running time. The first week is 20 minutes of 60 seconds of running, 90 seconds of walking. The second week is 90 seconds of running and 2 minutes of walking, and so on. This can help build your dogs muscles and let them adjust to running for an extended period of time.
3. Work on leash training. Gatsby has always been bad on a leash, despite two training courses. She pulls and insists on walking ahead of everyone else. When running make sure the leash is short enough so the dog is at your side. This is definitely something I struggle with and need to work on!
4. Bring the essentials. The park we run in has water fountains for humans and dogs about every mile, so I don't have to bring that with me. I do bring Gatsby's harness, a couple of bags for poop and treats for her when she starts lagging.
5. Monitor them during the run. Shape says "During exercise, closely watch your pup's pace, tail position, breathing, and gait. The most important and easiest thing to monitor is pace, your pet should be next to you or in front of you without coaxing from beginning to end. If they start lagging behind, it's time to stop. How do you know when it's exhaustion and not subbornness? Your dog's tail position and breathing should be the same from start to finish. If the tail drops or if their panting is louder or more labored, that's a sign they're working too hard. Heavy or accelerated panting signals that their heart rate is too high. And if your pal starts foaming at the mouth, stop immediately, get them water, and cool them off."
Do you run with your dog? Any tips for a newbie like me? Let me know below!