Exactly two months ago I wrote about running/jogging with my dog Ellie as a weight loss program for myself and physical and mental exertion program for her. If someone had told me I was going to be able to run 2.5 miles without complaining, crying or screaming murderous rants, I would have thought it a really mean thing to say to me. I hated running. I would have rather licked the floor of a busy public restroom than to think about running. Alas, I strapped on my sneakers, harnessed the dog and took off, for my clothes were feeling tight and the lack energy was slowly killing me. However, I didn’t do it by myself.
Chris and the Pooch to 5k guide had a lot to do with my success. Chris made sure I kept my word when I said I would go out for a jog, kept me company and learned that to encourage me best, guilt tripping would be ideal. The Pooch to 5k guide was great to check my endurance progress as the weeks went by.
It is not easy to run with a puppy. Their training is yet to be fully ingrained and they are easily distracted. This means I am often being pulled along for the ride. Sometimes I just want to relax while I run. That’s right, I said it, relax. While we all must always be aware of our surroundings (traffic, cyclist, and other pedestrians),when running with a dog, specially a puppy like Ellie, you need to pay even more attention.
As I run with Ellie, I am still constantly training her. Correcting her when she starts to run in front of me, knowing and catching her “I need a break” signal, and most important of all, calming her mind. As soon as we begin running, all of a sudden, it’s so much action! So much to pay attention to and so little time to dawdle! Cars are zooming by! Its crazy! This, I’m sure, is what races through her mind once we start pounding the sidewalk. It takes her a good half mile to 1 mile to settle in and follow along at a regular pace. Sometimes I just need a break from that, so once a week I run alone.
Argos rarely runs with me but boy is he an expert runner! He usually accompanies Chris and they keep up with each other very well. Argos is three years old and although he’s never jogged regularly, he’s a natural. I think his obedience training is set, he understands commands quickly and is self aware at all times. He knows better than to run in front of someone.
If you’ve never exercised with your dog and you are interested in teaching your dog to run with you, below is the list of things I did to begin.
- Will power. LOTS of will power
- Sneakers/comfortable clothes
- Harness/Leash. You can try The Buddy System a hands-free leash. This works best on older well trained dogs. Puppies like Ellie, unfortunately, still need constant leading and direction. I find it easier to simply use her harness and regular leash.
- Dogs cool down their bodies by panting. They don’t sweat like we do and so special considerations need to be made. Run only when the weather is cool. Hot weather and a hot, panting dog are not good together. Run either in the early morning or the evening.
- Make sure the dog is well hydrated at all times. After a good run, I pour fresh cold water in the water bowl for them to enjoy.
- Don’t eat before you run. It doesn’t feel good. Run before both you and your dog eat breakfast or dinner or until a good two hours have passed since your last meal.
- Use common sense. If you are miserable, so is the dog. Take a break. It’s more important that you complete the goal you set out to do than to do it fast. If it takes you 30-40 minutes to run/walk 2 miles, at least it was 30-40 minutes you didn’t waste away sitting on the couch.
- Consult with your Physician & Veterinarian. For breeds who suffer from hereditary ailments like hip dysplasia and the like, running might not be the ideal form of exercise. Please be sure this is safe for you and your dog.
Like I mentioned a few times, Pooch to 5k is a great guide for starters. This is what I used and I surprised my self at how well I adjusted as I progressed through the guide. The first two weeks on the guide I felt out of place. My body fought against my desire to get in shape. By the third week I felt my feet fall into a steady pace…all of a sudden, I didn’t feel like I was dying with every step…I could hear my steady breaths and it felt so damn good. I was hooked!
After I completed the 5 weeks outlined in the guide, I was running 2.7 to 3.1 miles without a hitch. I don’t always run the same distances, alternating between 3.1 mile run and shorter runs. This is what a typical jog looks like for me:
- I do a dynamic stretch.
- Ellie/Argos Warm-up: 5 minutes brisk walk. It’s a good time for the dogs to void before we start running.
- Run for about half the total distance. Usually about 1 mile, break for two blocks and continue till the end. There are a few pauses here and there sometimes to allow for busy sidewalks, other dogs, traffic or whatever distracts Ellie.
- Warm down with a walk and static stretching for me.
I run almost every other day and take Ellie with me about 2 times a week. I embarked on this exercise journey for two reasons: to lose weight and to exorcise Ellie’s abundance of rambunctious energy. Don’t get me wrong, I love my rambunctious pup, but her energy was excessive to the point of needless barking at anything and everything that dare move beside her. I felt as though she was actually stressing out Argos with the constant pestering for play. I’ve since lost 8 lbs and she is one docile carefree doggie. Two months later, mission accomplished and it didn’t cost me anything but will power. Maybe $20 dollars for the hands-free leash, which I don’t even use.
I plan on maintaining this routine by actually participating in 5k, 10k runs, and one day…a marathon. I’ll take it slow, continue training and take Ellie with me on this new exciting adventure. I am excited, I signed up to run the 5K Paws Fur Pink Run/Walk for Breast Cancer with Ellie at my side.