So you want to train with your dog


Your dog probably already has a number of purposes: unwavering companion, home security system, occasional vacuum cleaner for dropped food.

But how about a personal trainer? After all, if your dog loves the outdoors and never hesitates to run around the yard in search of squirrels or encroaching rodents, why not harness that energy and enthusiasm to your physical advantage?

Ideas have legs. But scheduling any segment of your fitness routine around a dog requires careful planning. training with your dog isn’t just about tying on a leash and hitting the road. It requires understanding your dog’s capabilities, taking into account safety measures and respecting his comfort zone. Not all dogs will be ready for a five mile run or able to perform agility drills. Therefore, it is essential to create a realistic and flexible fitness plan that keeps in mind the breed, age and health of your dogs.

In this guide, we delve into the world of puppy-assisted fitness, offering wisdom on where to start, common mistakes to avoid, and the many benefits you’ll reap when you turn your furry best friend into your fitness ally.


Find the right breed

Remember that the individual capabilities of dog breeds are highly stratified. He considers the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to be a perfect companion for newborns, but not a natural-born distance runner. He was literally bred to sit at the feet of aristocrats and attract fleas.

According to Bru Hill, owner of Top of the Hill Obedience and K9 Training in Graham, North Carolina, it can be cruel to demand physically strenuous feats from dogs that simply weren’t bred to exercise in such ways.

If your goal is to let a dog run with you, then you definitely need to stay away from short-nosed dogs; their nasal passages aren’t built to deal with strenuous exercise, Hill explained. I have seen some dogs in great shape that still have stamina issues because they have so much difficulty breathing. You also don’t want to run around with sturdy dogs like mastiffs and Saint Bernards. Some pit bulls aren’t really built for exercise either.


In general, if you own a medium to large breed dog, such as a Weimaraner, English Springer Spaniel, Doberman Pinscher, or American Foxhound, you have a dog with legs and airways that are likely up to the challenge. In fact, all of these breeds are on the American Kennel Club’s list of dogs that make the best running companions.

Know Your pet

Your dog may be naturally quicker, quicker and more agile than you, but durability is another matter entirely. Your dog needs time to develop his aerobic limit and cardiovascular fitness in the same way any human athlete should. Even if your dog is naturally built for sprinting, he may not be able to sustain himself over an uninterrupted multi-mile session if he hasn’t been prepared for the task.

If a dog likes to run, it will likely push its owner to run even faster than they’re willing to run, Hill explained. But if you have a lazy or out of shape dog, you’ll get the opposite kind of reaction and he’ll usually tell you right away that he’s tired. Unless that dog has a natural drive to run even when he’s out of shape, he’ll let you know that he’s not interested in continuing to run.

If your dog is more like a shooting star that comes to life and then fades quickly, and needs time to develop, the AKC recommends starting by walking your dog to warm up, alternating distance training with a few segments of run, and then gradually increase the length of those segments over time.

Essentially you would be engaging in a form of Fartlek style training with your dog. (A Swedish concept that involves altering the speeds of different segments of your workout, though not necessarily at predictable intervals.) This can include paces from comfortable walking to full-on sprinting.

Using this type of protocol, you and your dog can both enjoy 15 minutes of moving at different speeds, instead of uninterrupted hours of walking or jogging. Plus, these shorter, more playful engagements will likely be a lot more fun for your dog than constant, uninterrupted running.

Attention span is everything

Keep in mind that your dogs’ listening skills will be severely tested on the open road. As soon as you clip the leash to your dog’s collar and head out for a run, your dog’s limited attention span could cause you to swerve into a busy street or abruptly interrupt your workout, all in the name of a seemingly endlessly fascinating stake in the world. telephone. Also, the louder your untrained dog is, the more likely this type of scene will play out.


We always tell people who get leashed that they need to keep their dog under control, Hill said. If your dog has a power that you can’t control, you definitely don’t want to run with those dogs if they aren’t trained to run alongside you. It’s bad enough trying to walk a dog you can’t handle, but running requires obedience and patience. You’re inviting the dog to do what he really wants to do, which is break free and run, but you also want him to run non-stop to interact with other dogs and other people. This requires an extra level of training.

If this becomes a problem, your best bet is to put your dog through some form of obedience training. Thus, you will reduce the likelihood of starts, stops, sudden twists.

As for the non running tasks

Most of your dog’s workouts will involve some sort of walking, running or hiking. But you may also be tempted to take them along for water activities to diversify your training regimen. In this realm, precautions are more important than ever and you must be Very aware of the breed you are inviting into the water.


Brachycephalic breeds, such as pugs or bulldogs, may not be suitable for swimming, warned Gaby Rise, a trainer at the dog swimming facility Paws to Swim in Rockville, Virginia. For those stingrays, it’s important to monitor them closely to make sure they can keep their cute, smoky faces out of the water and breathe safely. Other breeds, such as water retrievers, can swim more easily due to their structure.

What does water training with a dog look like? Usually not lap swimming sessions with few breaks. There are several flotation devices designed especially for dogs to extend their playtime in the water, but recovery that’s usually the name of the game, not the swim.

At our facility, the vast majority of dogs are very tired after a 30-minute swim appointment, and some even fade away before then, Rise said. It’s important to note that this is not 30 minutes of continuous swimming, but rather water fetch with lots of ins and outs and breaks. If you’re swimming in a natural body of water where the bottom isn’t visible, they could get entangled in debris or they could chase wildlife and become fatigued before you realize what’s going on. The same is true for water bodies with a current. Many dogs don’t know their limits or were bred to go, go, go. It is up to us to monitor, check for signs of fatigue and terminate the water feature when appropriate.

Refmember your dogs need

Be sure to provide your dog with ample sustenance before, during and after any exercise you end up completing outdoors. This includes water offered before, during and after the training session, along with treats to consume en route and food provided on your return home in case your dog is starving from his efforts.

You’ll clearly see if your dog needs water, Hill said. He will go from a normal panting to a hoarse panting, and then if you look closely, you’ll see the dog’s tongue throbbing every time he breathes. This is when you know the dog is overheated and definitely overworked.

Also pay attention to the elements. Your dog is enduring the same climate as you are, one way or another. Buying some form of clothing to protect your dog from the wet or cold is always a good idea. (And if you live in a snowy climate, keep in mind that frozen salt can do a number on their paws.)

Remember, your dog is the rare emotional being who adores you despite your many personal failures. That endless source of undeserved love is one of the major benefits of owning a dog in the first place. Above all, keep in mind that you are the only one who knows that your session on a high school track is a scheduled workout. For your dog, it simply registers as a pleasant time to bond a fling with the person he loves the most. Stretching the limits of your fitness is an admirable intention, but be careful not to do it at the expense of the trust of your best friends.


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