Things to Note:
- dogs do not have more natural endurance than you do
- if you are hot, your dog is 10x hotter with a fur coat on
- Always bring a bag for dog poop!
- My favorite running leash for a dog can be bought here: http://www.stuntpuppy.com/
I adopted my dog, Abby, from the Animal Humane Society in August 2014. She is a 4 year old, 50 pound black “mutt”. When we first got her, she could barely make it 1 mile. I worked with her 3-4x per week to get her endurance up. Over the years, she has done some impressive workouts with my husband Jason and I. Jason took her on a 10 miler with 5 miles @ 5:50 pace this past winter. She has done several 10+ milers at 7:30 pace. She has also pulled me to several sub 5:50 miles :).
These below tips are only for adult dogs who have been cleared to run by a vet 🙂
Remember to always bring a poop bag and encourage them at the end!
Week 1- Your dog gets over excited then tired quickly- time to build endurance
- Start off slowly- bring your Garmin and go 1/2 to 1 mile with your pup. track the pace and distance as a bench mark
- Repeat the 1 or 1/2 mile run with your pup 3-4x the first week
- They will likely start off really fast then trail off at the end. This is okay for the start. Try to stay patient because they will learn how to pace themselfs
Week 2- Your dog gets super excited and pulls too hard- time to teach negative splits
- Increase the distance to 1-2 miles total (double). Track the pace and distance
- Do these 1-2 mile runs 3-4x this second week
- They will probably still pull a lot in the beginning
- When they slow down at the end, try to encourage them to speed up and “finish fast
Week 3- Your dog now has endurance, but needs to learn pacing! Positive reinforcement
- Continue to add to the distance 2-3 miles 3x per week now
- This week it is critical to do negative splits with your dog- try to encourage them to go fast at the end instead of the beginning
I would repeat week 3 for as long as you can. This is a “sweet spot” for most dogs. I have found most dogs can work up to 3-5 miles without it being too taxing. However, it is important to be SO aware of how your dog is feeling. Remember, they are wearing a FUR COAT and do NOT have the ability to sweat. They might seem like they have a lot of energy, but their endurance must be built just like ours does! Your pups don’t have an actual ‘voice’ in how far you are thinking of taking them, so I recommend circling your house and asking them if they want to go inside after 2-3 miles. You will be able to tell if they are “up for more miles” or if they are ready to go take a nap if you just check in with them 🙂 Always be aware of the temperatures. Don’t run your dog more than 20 min if it’s over 75 degrees outside. If the temps are under 50, that is ideal dog running weather!
Remember, your dog needs to learn how to run just like you did 🙂 It’s hard not to “go out too fast” especially when you have the enthusiasm of a dog. Try to stay patient with them. They will learn how to pace themselves.
A tired pup is a happy pup!