Why Run With Your Dog?
Training Your Best Friend Exercise Routine
Our dog Trainer Billy Dewalt will help you enjoy a rewarding healthy experience with your dog.
So you’ve got a fit and healthy dog who is attentive and somewhat focused, but you’ve reached a plateau with their physical training. How do you take your dog’s fitness level up a notch? You can enhance any fitness routine by adding a structured running program. Below is CapeK9Cardio’s four-week training plan that is sure to improve your dog’s speed and strength.
Important things to consider before starting this routine:
- Check with your vet to ensure your dog is healthy enough to exercise.
- Always perform a warm up with your dog. This will loosen the joints and get their blood pumping.
- Build up in small increments and watch for fatigue. End the session if your dog shows signs of fatigue or lies down.
- Give your dog water before, during and after the workout.
- Select a running surface that is suitable to your dog’s pads. If your dog is an intermediate runner already, their pads should be rough enough for pavement. Beginner dogs need to build up gradually and should start on a softer surface like grass.
- Keep your dog on a leash and by your side while running.
Don’t over work your dog, especially in hot climates. Your dog may not know when to quit. Dogs have to rely on their trainers to monitor them at all times.
Explanation of terms in this routine:
Crossing-training (CT): Cross Training activities allow you to give your dog’s muscles and joints some rest, while still working on cardio. When this routine calls for CT, do a cardio activity other than running (e.g., agility, ball, fetch or swimming) at a moderate effort level for 30-45 minutes.
Interval workouts (IW): After a warm-up, run 400 meters (one lap around most tracks) hard, and then recover by jogging or walking 400 meters (the interval is actually the rest between laps). So 3 x 400 would be three fast 400s, with a 400 meter recovery in between.
Rest: Rest is crucial to recovery and helps prevent injuries. Your dog’s muscles will build and repair themselves during rest days. Proper rest will improve your dog’s progress and is just as important as the exercise portion or this routine.
Tempo Run: Tempo runs help your dog push to the next level. Start your run with a 5-10 minute warm up, then continue with 15-20 minutes running at a comfortably hard pace, and finish with a 5-10 minute cool down.
Saturday long runs: After a warm up, run at a sustainable pace for the indicated mileage. Also, be sure you cool down and message your dog’s leg muscles after the run.
Sundays: Recovery run. Your run should be at a comfortable, easy (EZ) pace, which helps loosen your dog’s muscles and will aid in their recovery.
Note: Switch up the plan as needed to accommodate your schedule, just be sure not to do two intense workouts back to back.
Training Routine for Healthy Fit Dogs
|1||CT or Rest||3 x 400 IW||2 m run||30 min tempo||Rest||3 m run||30 min EZ|
|2||CT or Rest||4 x 400 IW||2 m run||30 min tempo||Rest||4 m run||35 min EZ|
|3||CT or Rest||4 x 400 IW||3 m run||30 min tempo||Rest||5 m run||35 min EZ|
|4||CT or Rest||5 x 400 IW||3 m run||35 min tempo||Rest||5 m run||40 min EZ|
Sometimes, running with your dog just doesn’t seem to go according to plan. Your dog might lag behind, or he might want to stop after just a few kilometres or he may even run in front and trip you up. All of these can take the pleasure out of sharing a run with your four legged buddy. So what can you do about these problems? In a nutshell, it all boils down to training.
Any behaviour has a reason behind it: a dog might react in a certain way in a particular situation because of fear, excitement, previous training, or because of an innate breed-related behavioural characteristic. Dogs are also very good at picking up on cues you give them, and they learn what’s going to happen next. That’s why lots of dogs get excited when they see their lead – they know they’ll be going out. If you’re trying to train your dog to run well with you, then it’s worth considering bringing in one or two new cues which he will learn to associate specifically with running. You might use a running harness he doesn’t wear at any other time, or you might choose a really tasty food treat that you never give him except when you’re running. Over time, your dog will learn what’s expected of him when that particular harness or treat is in use.
A border collie’s herding instinct could get in the way of your running because she might keep trying to run around you – to round you up. She might not do this with anyone else in the park; because you are her “flock” it’s you she wants to herd. Border collies can be trained to drive sheep ahead of them, so in this situation I’d encourage her to run just behind you so she can herd you from behind. Every time she gets ahead, stop her, and ask her to continue once you’re a step ahead again. You’ll need to start this at walking pace before moving up a gear. Alternatively, go back to basics and train her to walk at heel then gradually increase your pace while always rewarding her for staying calmly by your side.
Maybe your dog loves running, but she wants to go faster than you, and she wants to choose the route. You end up being pulled along, and then tripped up when your dog crosses just ahead of you because she’s just noticed an irresistible smell on the other side of the track. The problem here is that your dog isn’t focussed on the job in hand – running with you – and the reason for this is almost certainly that you haven’t made yourself more exciting than the other smells around her. Again, you’ll need to start at a walking pace, and choose whatever motivates your dog best as a reward – usually food or a favourite toy – to retrain her to stay at your side.
Does your dog love running round the park with her friends, but drag her feet when she’s out with you? You’re just not holding her attention, so if you don’t mind, she’d rather be at home with her feet up. What you’ll need to try here is running a short way to start with, using your chosen method of keeping her focussed on you, and stop before there’s any sign of boredom. You might not get very far, but when you’ve finished the run, give your dog a great reward – fresh chicken, or a game with a special toy. Try cutting back on treats at any other time, so that running is her only activity associated with treats. You should be able to gradually build up the distance you can run. Another option is to go out with a friend and their dog. Sometimes having another dog to run with keeps the enthusiasm high.
Have fun with your dog, but remember that, just like us, some dogs are just not cut out to be marathon runners. If a short 3 or 4km run is all your pup is interested in, then enjoy that with her and head out for your extra few kilometres on your own or with a human friend