If you are a runner, there are definite advantages to teaching your dog how to run with you. It’s a bonding experience that will keep both of you fit and healthy, but just because dogs can run fast and enjoy being outside (generally), doesn’t mean that you can throw your dog right into running marathons. To train your dog to run with you, there are a few guidelines you should follow.
Start slow. No matter how long you have been running, there was a time when you started at the bottom. Your dog will have to do the same. Start with three times a week for 15-20 minutes, and if all goes well, increase by five minutes each week. If your dog is showing signs of fatigue during those first runs (ears flattened, tail down, panting), or is completely exhausted after the run, slow it down a little bit more and let your furry friend work himself up to where you want him to be. For small dogs, running training should not start until about nine months when their bones are fully developed, and for large dogs, up to 16 months.
Teach your dog what to do. Dogs are good at running, but running with a dog who isn’t formerly trained to can be dangerous and crazy. Start by running on a leash around three feet from you. Gentle tugs along the way will guide your pup and let him know that he can’t stop to pee every few feet. Treats will help with this at first as well by using them as reinforcement along with way. Eventually going on the run will be the reward for your pooch, but like with any training, treats are a great reward to start with.
Be courteous. If your dog stops because he has to, you know, go, make sure to have a bag with you for emergency clean ups. Also, if there are people walking on the sidewalk, or children playing in a driveway, it’s best to pull your dog into the street with you for passing. Not all people want to pet your dog, and a dog that is in a pretty full speed run can be very intimidating, even for a dog person.
After lots of endurance and behavior training, your dog should be ready to go the distance with you, making runs more fun for both of you.