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posted: 8/21/2014 11:12 AM

Ease your dog into your running routine

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  • Justine is a female, 10-week-old beagle mix, who weighs about four pounds.

      Justine is a female, 10-week-old beagle mix, who weighs about four pounds.
    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

  • Mia is a 9-month-old Havanese mix, who weighs in at 16 pounds.

      Mia is a 9-month-old Havanese mix, who weighs in at 16 pounds.
    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

 
By Ellaine Kiriluk
The Buddy Beat

Now that vacation time is ending and more people are back home, we have a veritable parade of dogs and people passing by our window.

Our neighbors who walk their dogs early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The two men who walk their dogs off lead and are surprised when they encounter a fellow dog walker. The lady who talks on her cellphone as her dog pulls her down the sidewalk. The two boys who run, laugh and jump down the street, their dog wagging his tail and running right beside them. The people running with their dogs, getting their daily workouts.

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Chrisie Aschwanden, runnersworld.com, and Jenna Autori-Dedic, fitnessmagazine.com, have information about running with your dog for exercise. They offer suggestions, guidelines and even equipment for making your daily run fun for you and your pet.

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 his bones stop growing -- about 9 months in small dogs and possibly up to 16 months in larger breeds. Consult your veterinarian regarding your dog's health and fitness prior to starting endurance running.

Start slowly and ease your dog into the running routine. Start him with a five-minute warm-up prior to the run, then pace him. As you run, watch for signs of fatigue in your dog: hind legs dragging, flattened ears, tail down, heavy panting, or he may sit down and refuse to continue.

Autori-Dedic suggests following the guidelines set by Josih Neuman, training director for the Neuman K-9 Academy.

"Small dogs, like Boston terriers, can typically go 2½ to 3½ miles per hour (an easy to brisk walk for you). Medium size breeds, like Spaniels, can run at 3½ to 4½ miles per hour. Large dogs, like golden retrievers, can travel 5 to 6 miles per hour."

As with any new activity, some training in endurance running is good for you and your dog. Aschwanden suggests a gentle tug on your dog's leash lets you guide his body and attention when you want it. She suggests the dog being 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.

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 JT Clough's top running dog breeds in eight categories.

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, which 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 and well-muscled hind quarters.

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

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

I'm not a runner, so my dog and I walk around our neighborhood. If you like to walk, join the Buddy Foundation at its Buddy Walk at 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, at Melas Park, Arlington Heights Park District, 1500 W. Central Road, Mount Prospect.

For information, go to thebuddyfoundation.org or call (847) 290-5806. All proceeds benefit the dogs and cats of the Buddy Foundation.

• The Buddy Foundation is a nonprofit (501c3), all-volunteer, no-kill animal shelter dedicated to the welfare of stray, abused and abandoned cats and dogs. For details, call (847) 290-5806 or visit www.thebuddyfoundation.org.

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