Sure they are “man’s best friend” but you can also think of your dog as a treadmill with fur! Dogs are not only great companions but they are also great training partners. I have never meet a dog who didn’t want to go for a walk. The mere mention of the “w” word can get tails a waggling!
If you are a runner then you can train your dog to run with you. Like their human owners, dogs have to train to go the distance. Also, like humans, not all dogs are suitable to run long distances. I had a husky lab wolf cross that I wanted to run with to scare off bears in my native British Columbia. After just three or four miles she would throw herself on the ground like a 100 pound scatter rug! If a bear came along she would have gladly offered me up as an appetizer! My next door neighbor who was on the Canadian Marathon team trained on the same trails with her Fox Terrier for hours! The larger the dog is the harder it can be for it to put in serious mileage. Hard on their hearts and hips. Also, dogs like Bulldogs, Boxers, and other breeds with short snouts have a difficult time since them can more easily over heat. Dogs don’t sweat like their human companions, they have to dissipate heat by panting to cool down. Breeds with short snouts have a more difficult time.
Smaller dogs, under 25 pounds to medium sized dogs, including Fox and Jack Russel Terriers , and 50-70 pounds, like Labrador Retrievers and Blue Heelers can make great running companions. Of course, attitude regardless of breed can go a long way! Ironically, Grey Hounds, the sprinters of the dog world, are not the greatest running partners. They will kick your butt for the first 400 meters and then they are pretty much done!
My newest dog, grand-dog actually, is a nine pound “Min Pin”. it never occurred to me that she would be a great running partner. Then one day at the end of a walk I took her to the track. I just wanted to see if I could a mile without stopping
after recovering from a recent surgery. My 9 pound dog seriously kicked my butt. So I started running with her. Over the course of three months we have worked up to running 7 miles together. The other day we were out on a five mile run. Around the half way point in our run we passed a woman walking her dog. She looked at us and remarked “That ‘s ridiculous!” What?? We might look funny or in my mind cute but ridiculous? Dogs are like people. They need exercise. They need to be mentally and physically challenged. An over weight under exercised mammal, with or without four legs and fur is unhealthy. So think about putting your “treadmill with fur” into run mode and have some fun with your best friend.
Here are some guidelines from our Veterinarian, Dr. Carter, DVM, MRCVS, at Central Animal Hospital in Petaluma:
- In general, exercise is good for all dogs no matter what size or breed
- Lean muscle mass helps to support and protect joints and is especially beneficial to degenerative or arthritic joints
- Dogs love to get out and see the world and their quality of life plus their joint health is increased by regular exercise
- Increased levels of exercise should occur gradually and progressively
- If your dog can’t run for 30 minutes straight, he may be able to run for 10 minutes three times per day
- Don’t push your dog if he is pulling back or seems to not be “keeping up”
- Some dogs love to run so much that they don’t care how much it hurts; still, you will see it in them later and if so you should cut it back by half the next time
- If your dog is stiff or sore either after exercise or the next day, cut back the length and time of a run by half the next time you go out
- If your dog has a persistent limp or a noticeable change in his ability to exercise consult your veterinarian!
- Overall, consider distance, training, and surface/ ground hardness the same as you would for a person- that is:
-don’t take your dog for a 5 mile run if you can’t remember the last run he did!
-don’t run for miles on concrete if he is not used to this
- ALWAYS pickup after your dog/ leave no mess behind!!