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posted: 1/13/2013 5:43 AM

Tips for running with your canine companion

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  • Heidi, a 10-year-old female Dachshund, weighs about eight pounds and is looking for a forever home.

    Heidi, a 10-year-old female Dachshund, weighs about eight pounds and is looking for a forever home.
    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

  • Milo, an eight-pound male miniature Pinscher, is about 8 years old and needs a place to call home.

    Milo, an eight-pound male miniature Pinscher, is about 8 years old and needs a place to call home.
    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation


By Ellaine Kiriluk

The Buddy Beat

More and more people are running for exercise. My sister runs three miles a day. My niece and her husband are training for a 26K marathon in the spring. A colleague at work is training for a 15K in March.

In our neighborhood, more and more people are dressed in neon orange or green jackets, running in the streets and on the sidewalks to get their daily workout. With all of these people running, I've seen only one couple running with their dog.

I thought running with your dog was a novel idea. But Jenna Autori-Dedic of and Christie Aschwanden of have information about running with your dog for exercise.

Both offer suggestions, guidelines and even equipment for making your daily run fun for you and your canine companion. Both quote J.T. Clough, a professional dog trainer and co-author of "5K Training Guide, Running with Dogs," regarding getting your dog started in endurance running.

Aschwanden notes puppies need time for their bones to grow so their joints aren't injured, and cautions not to run with your puppy until about 9 months in small dogs and possibly 16 months for larger breeds. (I think consulting your veterinarian regarding your dog's health and fitness prior to starting endurance running is the best place to start.)

As you begin your training, start slowly and ease your dog into it.

"Start with three times per week for 15 or 20 minutes and build up from there, adding five minutes each week," notes Clough.

Start your dog with a five-minute warm-up prior to the run. Then pace you and your dog. As you run, watch for signs of fatigue in your pet -- hind legs dragging, flattened ears, tail down, heavy panting, or he may even sit down and refuse to continue.

Autori-Dedic suggests following the guidelines set by Josiah Neuman, training director for the Neuman K-9 Academy: "Small dogs, like Boston terriers, can typically go 1 to 3 miles per hours (an easy to brisk walk for you). Medium-size breeds, like spaniels, can run at 3 to 4 miles per hours. Large dogs, like golden retrievers, can travel five to six miles per hour."

As with any new activity, endurance running means some training for both you and your dog. Aschwanden suggests a gentle tug on your dog's leash will let you guide his body and attention when you want it. She suggests the dog be within three feet of you, to one side, reinforcing good behavior with a small treat or praise.

"Eventually, the dog will see that the run is the real reward," she notes.

And good manners still count when you're running with your dog.

Aschwanden says, "If you encounter strangers on a trail, pull off to the side to let them pass without interacting with your dog. Remember, no one loves your dog as much as you do, so don't assume others want your dog to greet them."

When deciding if you want to train your dog for endurance running, consider reading Aschwanden's article, "A Breed Apart." She presents Liz Devitt and J.T. Clough's top running dog breeds in eight categories. For example:

• Dogs best suited for running in the cold because of their thick coats and stockier body types are malamutes, German shepherds, Swiss mountain dogs and Siberian huskies.

• Dogs best suited for long, slow runs are catahoulas, Labrador retrievers, standard poodles and Dalmatians because of their bigger bodies that can handle the distance if you go slowly.

• Dogs best suited for brisk shorter runs (less than 10K) are greyhounds, pit bulls, English setters, beagles and golden and Labrador retrievers because of their muscular and lean build and a mind for sprinting rather than slogging.

• Dogs best suited for long, steady runs are Weimaraners, German shorthaired pointers, vizlas and Jack Russell terriers because of their medium build, well-muscled hind quarters, not too heavy.

Susan Dicks, DVM, an Albuquerque-based veterinarian and marathon runner reports, "There's no perfect running breed for all conditions, and a dog's personality and temperament are as important as its pedigree."

She notes mixed breeds can make fine runners, especially if they're medium-sized, alert and eager.

Seems to me, all things considered, running with your dog makes sense. After all, who likes to run more than a dog?

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