Dogs can be almost any kind of friend you want them to be! Whether you need a snuggler, a hunting companion, a playmate for your kids, or a protector, a canine friend can offer all of these. For the dog-lovers who prefer to live the active lifestyle, a dog as a running companion would be a perfect match.
Some breeds are a much better fit as a running companion compared to others. A good breed for running would be one with high energy and sturdy body type such as the American Lab, the Boxer, the Husky, or a herding breed like the Australian Shepherd. Small and delicate breeds such as the Chihuahua, or very large and heavy breeds like the Saint Bernard do not make good running companions. These breeds can easily overheat, and their body types are simply not designed to run for long distances. Brachycephalic breeds, or breeds with short noses like the Bulldog, should not be used for running since they cannot get enough oxygen into their lungs while running for long periods of time.
Once you have picked an ideal breed for the running gig, the next step is making sure that they are well trained for the task. Training cues and having a dog that is a good listener is crucial to assure both your safety and the safety of your pup. Without good training there may be a risk of injury and accidents. Make sure both you and your running buddy have an amazing time in the great outdoors with these five commands:
Before going on an outdoor running excursion, every dog should know the very important stop command. Think of the stop command as a type of braking system for your pup. It is important to make your dog know how to stop whenever you say. This is for their safety. Dogs who are not able to stop when told to do so are much more likely to get away from their owners, or worse run into traffic. Some owners prefer to use the commands “woah” or “heel” to get their dogs to stop running. Whatever command you use will work, just make sure that your pup is used to the command before going out for your adventure!
2. Let’s Go
This command can be used to get your dog’s attention and to start your run. Being able to get your dog focused will let them know that they have a job to do. This can also be useful mid-run if your dog gets distracted by a nearby squirrel or another dog they want to play with.
3. Left and Right
When most owners are running their canine workout buddies the dog will typically take the lead. When your dog is leading it is important that you give them directional cues from behind. Most dogs will respond well to simple right and left cues, but they are not actually directionally aware. Putting the leash in the hand you wish to turn and giving a gentle tug will give your dog an additional physical cue to which way you wish to turn. This additional physical cue will be very important for pups who are new to running.
4. Move It and Slow
These are two opposite commands, but they serve the same purpose which is to let you set the pace of your run. “Move it” will tell your dog to pick up the pace while “slow” will allow you to slow the pace down. Any well-trained dog will happily let you choose the pace of the run and will follow your lead, even from behind.
5. Get Behind
Lastly, the “get behind” command will tell your dog to fall in behind you while running. There are certain cases where it will be easiest for you to take the lead. Some of these cases may include another dog on the trail exhibiting signs of dog aggression or going down a steep hill where your dog may lose footing. If you are uncertain about the safety of your dog, the “get behind” signal can help to keep them safe until you feel the situation has resolved.
As you continue to look for more information regarding commands used for running with your dog you are going to find great variation. The word you use to direct your dog isn’t as important as training consistency. If every time you train your dog to stop you used the work “Hey” they will learn this means stop as long as you use the same phrase every single time! To get your dog used to these new commands try using them on walks and slowing add jogging as your dog gets more comfortable with the commands. Just like babies, dogs need to learn how to walk before they can learn how to run!
As your little running buddy gets comfortable with the commands and jogging you can slowly start to add more distance or speed to each of your sessions. Just like us, no dog wants to wake up one day and be asked to run a mile when they haven’t been training for one! The best way to get up to longer distances is to start small, perhaps a quarter mile, and if your pup is feeling good try a half mile the next day and keep slowly adding distance until you get your desired workout length.
Dogs will not be able to tell you when they have had enough, so it is important to look for the signs. Excessive panting and lagging behind you may be signs that your dog is overheated, exhausted, or possibly injured. If this happens make sure to stop, offer your dog some water, and a chance to use the bathroom. If your dog recovers quickly after the break feel free to keep going. If they don’t want to get up or seem reluctant to run, allow the dog to walk the rest of the way home. Running with your furry friend can be great motivation and so much fun. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your pup and get training!