Why I Got A Running Dog
For years I ran by myself; through all four years of college, and then for another couple of years after college. The years after college were the worst; waking up at 5:30am to get my run in before heading to work by 8. Oftentimes it would be so dark that early in the morning running required a headlamp and lots of reflective gear. I used to avoid certain areas and try to stick to the busiest parts of town out of fear that something might happen to me while I was out there alone.
In 2015 I had a large dog chase after me and rip at my clothes with his teeth. In 2016 I had heard about so many incidences with runners in my area I was too paranoid to go out early by myself.
For this reason, I started to look for a dog. I knew I wanted to get either a rescue or a shelter dog, and I was interested in the Viszla breed because of their incredible endurance. It didn’t take me too long before I found a dog I deemed to be “the one.” I was told Joey was a pharaoh hound mix, but when I met him I felt strongly that he had some Viszla in him….now that we have had him for almost a year I can near GUARANTEE that dog is part Viszla.
Training A Dog to Run
Age to Begin
Now, Joey was almost a year old when we got him, which made him the perfect candidate to start run training right away. It is important to wait until a dog is about a year old before you start running them; their bones and cartilage need to be set so that you don’t cause permanent damage to them.
Do More Than Just Run Training
My dog also had some other issues….I mean, he was a rescue after all. So we got started working with the company Maligator Kennels (BEST COMPANY EVER!). We got Joey over his fear of men (and new people in general), and are still in the process of teaching him to be friendly to all dogs.
But lets jump to the good stuff…Joey was a NIGHTMARE on a leash. I HATED taking him for walks and runs because he would pull so hard on the leash that his front paws would lift off the ground and he would just be walking on his back paws….all so that he could get a few feet in front of me. We had to be careful every time the door opened because Joey was an escape artist and would weezle his way outside every time – not a great thing for a dog who had no recall.
Don’t Give Up…Training is Amazing and Worth It
With just a few lessons from the Maligator crew, I had Joey walking nicely on a leash and learning what it mean to “heel” when we ran. But believe me, there are STILL days I want to break down and cry because Joey won’t listen perfectly on a run…but we are no where NEAR as bad as we were the first 2 months we started running. After lots of one on one training and then completing the advanced obedience class, I have off leash control of my dog, and we can do stuff like this:
I don’t care if your dog is “friendly,” If they don’t have a perfect recall, please keep them on a leash!
Now…I’m just going to throw this plug out there for my own selfish reasons. Remember how I mentioned I’m still working with Joey on being friendly to all dogs…..so even though my dog is completely off leash reliable, I still run with him on a leash for that reason, and I PLEAD with those of you who have dogs that are NOT off leash reliable to PLEASE keep your dogs on leash. I cannot tell you the number of time we have run into other people out on trails or in neighborhoods that have their dogs off leash that will run up to my dog who IS on leash…but not always friendly. I have even gotten in the way to protect someone else’s dog and been bit. If your dog will not come to you the moment you call them PLEASE KEEP THEM ON A LEASH.
7 Things to Know About Running With A Dog
If you are considering getting a dog, or training your dog to become your running partner…here are a few things I’ve learned that might be helpful to you:
- Make sure it is a breed that CAN run – some dogs are too small, others have bad hips, etc.
- Start slow – the first couple of months I ran with my dog we never went more than 2 miles. Almost a year later, we are just now getting up to 7 miles together.
- Bring them water – especially in the summer! My dog is a short haired hunting dog and he still gets really thirsty and really hot during those summer months.
- Buy the right gear – some dogs need musher’s secret or booties in the winter to protect their paws. My dog needs a warm jacket in the winter because of his short hair. We also use a cooling vest in the summer to help him not get too hot in the sun.
- Get help training – if you don’t know where to begin, or your dog is just causing more frustration than enjoyment, get help from a training to point you in the correct direction.
- Get a running leash – There are leashes that clip around your waste so that once your dog has a strong heal command, you no longer have to hold the leash while you run.
- Don’t give up! – Training a dog to be your running partner takes A LOT of work. It has been almost a year since we started this process and we are still not perfect. But I promise…the reward when runs go well is SO WORTH IT. If you don’t believe me, take a look at all these fun photos and videos below.