Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

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KT785
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Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by KT785 » Thu May 10, 2018 11:24 am

Fellow BHs who have a four-legged running companion:

My wife and I have a 4 month old Vizsla puppy (our beloved 11 y.o. Labrador passed away in March, so we're not new to dog ownership) that I plan on running with as she matures. The Vizsla's running abilities were one of the big reasons for the breed, along with their "velcro" nature. That said, I never ran with our Lab--she was on the happily lazy end of the doggy spectrum--so I'm rather in the dark about training, techniques, quality equipment.

I don't plan on doing any significant(-ish) distance or training with her until she's about 10-12 months old per our veterinarian's guidance but currently run with her for a max of 5 minutes at a time (again, per Vet's advice) in between other obedience activities.

I regularly run 6-8 miles a day 5 days a week and do a 13+ mile long run once a week (mileage is increased if I'm training for a full marathon) and am well aware she won't get to that level for quite some time, if ever.

I'm currently looking at Ruffwear brand harnesses for her and belt for me. Does anyone have any experience with this brand or have other recommendations, whether it be brands or types of equipment?

Also, are there any training schedules, advice, or experiences that you could share as my little girl and I navigate our way through this process?

One issue has already surfaced: wife and I had a disagreement re: heel training. My wife's parents used to breed and show dogs many years ago, so there's some sense of "tradition" in techniques she's familiar with and accordingly, intended to heel train her on the left. Given my personal preference, and intent for her to be a running companion, I much prefer her to heel on the right given that she'd be out of the way of other runners, cyclists, etc. on the trails we'll be on, and likewise give her ready access to grassier surfaces. Based on my preliminary research, heeling on the left is merely a traditional approach (standard for showing/confirmation/etc.) but there's little other reason for it--curious how others have approached this issue.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

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Pajamas
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by Pajamas » Thu May 10, 2018 11:27 am

KT785 wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 11:24 am


One issue has already surfaced: wife and I had a disagreement re: heel training. My wife's parents used to breed and show dogs many years ago, so there's some sense of "tradition" in techniques she's familiar with and accordingly, intended to heel train her on the left. Given my personal preference, and intent for her to be a running companion, I much prefer her to heel on the right given that she'd be out of the way of other runners, cyclists, etc. on the trails we'll be on, and likewise give her ready access to grassier surfaces. Based on my preliminary research, heeling on the left is merely a traditional approach (standard for showing/confirmation/etc.) but there's little other reason for it--curious how others have approached this issue.
Por que no los dos?

You can teach a dog to heel on either side. It would probably be easier to teach her to heel on your wife's left and on your right.

Splitting between parents works for raising bilingual children, too.

livesoft
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by livesoft » Thu May 10, 2018 11:31 am

I run with my dog, but not the miles that you indicate. I never bothered with a harness or special setup at all. I have a 6-foot leash that I attach to my elbow joint. The leash can be held in my elbow joint by rolling up the sleeve of my long-sleeve "tech" shirt with leash inside.

A dog can be trained to heel on the left in the traditional manner. I use the command "By me" for my dog to remain on the right side. He can "Go left" or "Heel" on command or "Go right" or "By me" on command. So I don't see any problems with you and your spouse's left/right preferences. Just be consistent on what you use for each side and make sure they are not the same.

There is a beautiful Vizsla that I see a few times a week. As a puppy, he spent quite a lot of time sniffing, so running was not an option at the beginning, but he has grown into a fantastic dog. Good luck!
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pshonore
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by pshonore » Thu May 10, 2018 1:32 pm

I don't believe show dogs "heel" unless they're in the obedience ring so it shouldn't matter. Its true when gaiting a dog, the handler is always on the dog's right side so as to not obstruct the judges view. Was in a show one time where we had an English judge who gaited the dogs clockwise around the ring which is evidently common in England but not in the US where dogs are gaited counterclockwise (just like a horse race). That confused everyone - dogs and handlers alike. To make matters worse, after judging a few classes, she switched to counterclockwise

KT785
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by KT785 » Thu May 10, 2018 3:07 pm

Thanks for the input thus far--I'll continue training her to my right as that's more comfortable for me and (I believe) will be safer for her when we're out on the trails; given her already apparent high intelligence, am sure she can handle unique approaches from each of us.

Still curious about equipment recommendations, particularly from those who've tried hands-free leashes. I've never tried one but have attempted handheld bottles for running and despise the distraction and unbalanced nature of the feel while running and assume I'd have a similar experience with a handheld or arm-based leash.
Last edited by KT785 on Thu May 10, 2018 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

livesoft
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by livesoft » Thu May 10, 2018 3:12 pm

If I have to carry a bottle, then I wear a cycling jersey and use the back pockets. I don't like belts.
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KT785
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by KT785 » Thu May 10, 2018 3:13 pm

pshonore wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 1:32 pm
I don't believe show dogs "heel" unless they're in the obedience ring so it shouldn't matter. Its true when gaiting a dog, the handler is always on the dog's right side so as to not obstruct the judges view. Was in a show one time where we had an English judge who gaited the dogs clockwise around the ring which is evidently common in England but not in the US where dogs are gaited counterclockwise (just like a horse race). That confused everyone - dogs and handlers alike. To make matters worse, after judging a few classes, she switched to counterclockwise
You're far more knowledgeable about this subject than I am. :happy

There are no plans on showing our Vizsla so it shouldn't be an issue anyway, just trying to convey to the Mrs. that the premise behind heeling to the left is just a tradition with no current practical rationale (I understand there may have been some historic reasons for doing so).

KT785
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by KT785 » Thu May 10, 2018 3:18 pm

livesoft wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 3:12 pm
If I have to carry a bottle, then I wear a cycling jersey and use the back pockets. I don't like belts.
Agreed, I don't like belts . . . they're just better than hand-held bottles and they also hold my phone (can't stand arm-bands either). I've never tried a cycling jersey while running and may give it a shot; am currently planning on getting a hydration vest to try out in advance of my next marathon.

livesoft
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by livesoft » Thu May 10, 2018 3:20 pm

My phone goes in the middle back pocket.

And one can get sleeveless jerseys, short-sleeve jerseys, and long-sleeve jerseys.
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frazil
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by frazil » Thu May 10, 2018 4:46 pm

I run regularly, usually 3-6 miles at a time, with my lab (who is now 2), and have trained her to heel on the left. One big advantage I can see is that we often run on the road, facing oncoming traffic, and by heeling on the left I can keep her further away from the cars, and also if the shoulder is uneven I would prefer she run in the shoulder than me. This is helpful for walks, too. These are not busy roads.

On the trails where we run she is usually off leash (that is normal around us.)

One (unexpected) challenge I have found is she much prefers to walk/sprint/sniff/walk/sprint/etc, whereas I like to run at a steady pace. So she is not enthusiastic about leash running - I would say she puts up with it rather than enjoys it, and by 4 or 5 miles is usually dragging. Whereas she loves trail running where she can go at her own pace (she never strays far ahead/behind me - and will come when called) and can happily go 10+ miles. My prior dog (also a lab) had no such preference and would happily run either way.

have fun!

KT785
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by KT785 » Thu May 10, 2018 5:31 pm

frazil wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 4:46 pm
I run regularly, usually 3-6 miles at a time, with my lab (who is now 2), and have trained her to heel on the left. One big advantage I can see is that we often run on the road, facing oncoming traffic, and by heeling on the left I can keep her further away from the cars, and also if the shoulder is uneven I would prefer she run in the shoulder than me. This is helpful for walks, too. These are not busy roads.

On the trails where we run she is usually off leash (that is normal around us.)

One (unexpected) challenge I have found is she much prefers to walk/sprint/sniff/walk/sprint/etc, whereas I like to run at a steady pace. So she is not enthusiastic about leash running - I would say she puts up with it rather than enjoys it, and by 4 or 5 miles is usually dragging. Whereas she loves trail running where she can go at her own pace (she never strays far ahead/behind me - and will come when called) and can happily go 10+ miles. My prior dog (also a lab) had no such preference and would happily run either way.

have fun!
Thanks frazil!

I never run on the road, save for during races when the road is closed anyway, but run on our town’s multiuse trails (paved). These aren’t rural trail-running paths, so she’ll have to be on leash. Accordingly, I run on the right of the trail and likewise want her to be able to go off in the grass and dirt as much as she wants.

I do notice that those who walk their dogs on the trail do keep them to the left, which I would think puts them at bigger risk for an unaware cyclist to hit them—I’d fare better getting hit by a bike than my dog and am also more visible to cyclists.

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TxAg
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by TxAg » Thu May 10, 2018 5:52 pm

Some dogs will chafe with a harness (legs moving against body in the armpit area). I would stick with a collar.

Hillview
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by Hillview » Thu May 10, 2018 5:55 pm

we have 2 dogs. One is heel trained to be on the left the other is heel trained both sides it's not an issue

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Rainier
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by Rainier » Thu May 10, 2018 6:02 pm

I run with my black lab a couple times a week, with longer distances in the winter and sometimes not at all during peak summer heat.

Harnesses are silly, dogs' necks aren't people necks.

I use a bungy cord leash, but I never strap it around my waist.

I would not wait until the dog is a year old. The last thing a vet learned in vet school was what age a dog should start running. I would start early, slow and with short distances. Assuming the dog isn't refusing to run you are fine. At trotting speed a dog can do that all day, that is like walking for them.

Biggest risk is overheating, and dogs are pretty good at refusing to run when they are too hot. I would respect their judgement on this.

brandy
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by brandy » Thu May 10, 2018 6:10 pm

I am just SO envious of you!
A very important point is that the dog must WANT TO RUN. Not all dogs do.. And then the proper training/conditioning so she is safe.

My girl, a Belgian Sheepdog, was a mobility service dog. I trained her/she learned to heel on the left (come side) and the right (come by). We used an X-Back harness (sled dog harness) and a hands free leash (+) when she took me for walks. She learned the driving commands, and when I was able, she was 6' in front of me, (way out) tugging me along at MY speed, on foot. (Our version of canicross) When I needed to rest, she would either stop and lean into her harness so I could lean back to catch my breath, and would not move until I gave the command, or, if a bench were close, she would either pull me to it from that position, or come side, let me take her harness in hand, and drag me to the bench.
The + was a few extra feet onto the leash, as she pulled me on a bike--bikejor http://www.bikejor.com/
where we could go at a speed more comfortable for her. http://www.bikejor.com/home/commands-training. She loved her harness, just about jumped out of her skin when I got it out. We rarely left home without it, even for groceries, because it was so easy for me to use. She always behaved appropriately, in the stores, in the park, on a trail.

If your girl does want to run, I urge you to read and use the training tips for both canicross and bikejoring , and enjoy.
Some people who also show, use different harness, leash, color, commands, expectations. Not a reason in the world your pup can't learn to do both.
We--Mira and I--were never able to run because of me, but we sure enjoyed doing what we could.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canicross
https://cani-fit.com/beginners-guide-to-canicross-2/
https://www.runnersworld.com/running-wi ... -with-dogs
https://www.k9ofmine.com/canicross/
https://www.lovejoyspetfood.co.uk/best- ... -run-with/

and so much more!
I think I'll sit here and just turn green with envy.

Someone posted re a bungee cord. When bikejoring, part of the extra leash was a 3' bungee cord attached to the tail ring of the X-Back harness. She could take off so fast and hard, it was a safety measure for her. If I could RUN, we might have used one then too, but my fastest speed is a walk, so we didn't need one for that.
Sheknew what to do. :happy
Last edited by brandy on Thu May 10, 2018 7:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

brandy
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by brandy » Thu May 10, 2018 6:21 pm

Her harness was from https://nordkyn.com/product/x-back-harness-5/

I got her a bright pink one so it was more easily seen with her long black hair.
Do be careful of the fit--if it doesn't fit correctly, the dog can suffer. I suggest you get it from an outfitter, who will be aware of measurements, rather than off the hook at the pet store.

here's one more link, in case canicross and bikejoring get tiring,and you want to ride...
Hunter's Back! Floridamusher's leader returns! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYIyPGBVjh8
This one is just fun to watch...

Katietsu
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by Katietsu » Thu May 10, 2018 7:16 pm

If the dog is still intact, I would suggest you review the literature on spay and neutering and how it can impact orthopedic issues. There is evidence that canine athletes spayed or neutered during certain age ranges can be negatively affected. If a veterinarian does not know an owner well enough to know that they will be responsible in avoiding an unplanned litter, my experience is that the vet will not want to discuss this.

brandy
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by brandy » Thu May 10, 2018 7:19 pm

+1 I agree.

brandy
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by brandy » Thu May 10, 2018 9:08 pm

My "routine" when training Mira--a dog who worked HARD to understand and do what I asked of her:
First, I had to determine what she wanted as a reward. She was more motivated by food than by toys, and going out was even better than food most of the time.

For training, I would start at basic and very simple actions and build on them.
On each instance of training a new Task A, we would spend a few minutes only, a few times a day, with success always the goal. We would work on the same task maybe two days in a row, then either nothing, or a different task the next day or two. When we returned to Task A, she remembered it and had huge success, then right out the door for a walk! When we returned to Task B, again, she remembered, and more success, and a walk!

Almost all of our training was started indoors, even the driving commands. That took a bit longer, but she did get the idea. I was able to use the configuration of the house: going from the living room into the hall, and either HAW!! (turn left), GEE!! (turn right), or ON!! (go straight.) We worked with reins-- light cords attached to the right and left sides of her collar so I could steer her, and threw treats whichever direction I wanted her to go. After she was pretty dependable on directions, we worked in the yard and then in the driveway and sidewalk, still with me on the ground.
As soon as she understood that all that stuff meant a longer walk or bike ride, she understood it better.
She was NOT a dog interested in busy work. If she didn't see any reason for doing something, she'd lay down...
She would not retrieve a ball more than twice, but retrieved branches that I pruned from a tree until they were all in the trash.
I rarely had to scold her. Instead, I worked to determine how I could alter what I was asking so she could understand. She really wanted only to please me. And go out for walks and bike rides...

Determine what motivates your dog. If it is food, consider that the treats/rewards are part of her food allotment, to avoid an overweight dog. If it is going out, have the leash (and your jacket) ready to go after a good training session. Again, our sessions were 5-10 minutes, 2-4 or 5 times a day.
Best wishes.

mainiac
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by mainiac » Thu May 10, 2018 9:17 pm

I have a Ruffwear leash for the dog when we go hiking. It is about six feet long, has a belt for my waist and a short length of bungee cord and a handle that is near the dog if you need to hold the dog close to you. It works great and has held up very well. I love having my hands free.

reisner
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by reisner » Thu May 10, 2018 9:44 pm

Ruffwear stuff is great.

How birdie is your bird dog? If very, then you need a harness or a bridle or she will pull you off your feet. Evidence: my 44 lb. Llewellin English setter.

4nwestsaylng
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by 4nwestsaylng » Fri May 11, 2018 1:39 am

Rainier wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 6:02 pm
I run with my black lab a couple times a week, with longer distances in the winter and sometimes not at all during peak summer heat.

Harnesses are silly, dogs' necks aren't people necks.

I use a bungy cord leash, but I never strap it around my waist.

I would not wait until the dog is a year old. The last thing a vet learned in vet school was what age a dog should start running. I would start early, slow and with short distances. Assuming the dog isn't refusing to run you are fine. At trotting speed a dog can do that all day, that is like walking for them.

Biggest risk is overheating, and dogs are pretty good at refusing to run when they are too hot. I would respect their judgement on this.
Yeah, dog necks are necks, and the impact of sudden jolts on a dog neck can be significant. Harnesses are not silly, I think you would find most vets prefer harnesses.

I have had several retrievers, and lived in both desert and northern climates, and I would go on one or two miles with the dog. However I noticed with long distance runners, they are often not wanting to do a short run or fast walk with the dog, they have set aside time for their big daily run, and want to combine it with the dog run. And typically they have a bottle of water for themselves and not the dog.

So often I would see runners all decked out in their gear, with the dog bravely trying to keep up, despite fact that the dog's tongue is hanging way out trying to keep cool. They don't sweat as you know, the tongue is the cooling mechanism. They want to be part of the team and please their owner, so they will in fact run often to exhaustion and overheat. Don't rely on the dog to stop as the indicator of overheating.

Dogs need water. I think you should consider doing your long runs on your own, and carving out time for a short run with the dog and then you won't have to carry water and make the stops during your training. Also the dog will be able to sniff around, linger, go into the bushes a bit,that is a dog's idea of a nice outing even if it does not work for your running schedule.

guitarguy
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by guitarguy » Fri May 11, 2018 11:01 am

Re: heeling on the left...

I think it’s quite preferable to the right when running with my dog. Or walking. Usually I walk both dogs together and they both heel next to each other on the left. I’m out and about in a typical residential neighborhood with sidewalks mostly.

I find it’s very easy to move to the left so the dog(s) get onto the grass and I’m still on the pavement and between them and any runners/strollers/other dogs/etc. Also it’s easier to pass people that I come up behind while still staying between the dog and them.

I use a regular collar with the leash tucked into my spandex shorts underneath regular workout shorts when I run...nothing special needed really.

Obviously...just make sure you’re not overworking the dog. That’s some serious distance to cover especially if you’re running with any kind of real pace. I only do about 2 miles with the dog and at a slower pace than I would if I was running on my own. Many times I’ve run 3 miles or so, back inside to pickup the dog, and run another couple at a slower pace for a cool down lol.

guitarguy
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Re: Dog as Running Companion - Advice, Equipment, Training, Etc.

Post by guitarguy » Fri May 11, 2018 11:15 am

4nwestsaylng wrote:
Fri May 11, 2018 1:39 am
Rainier wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 6:02 pm
I run with my black lab a couple times a week, with longer distances in the winter and sometimes not at all during peak summer heat.

Harnesses are silly, dogs' necks aren't people necks.

I use a bungy cord leash, but I never strap it around my waist.

I would not wait until the dog is a year old. The last thing a vet learned in vet school was what age a dog should start running. I would start early, slow and with short distances. Assuming the dog isn't refusing to run you are fine. At trotting speed a dog can do that all day, that is like walking for them.

Biggest risk is overheating, and dogs are pretty good at refusing to run when they are too hot. I would respect their judgement on this.
Yeah, dog necks are necks, and the impact of sudden jolts on a dog neck can be significant. Harnesses are not silly, I think you would find most vets prefer harnesses.
Harnesses aren’t silly...they have their place...but they certainly aren’t “preferred by most vets.” In fact the wrong type of harness can encourage pulling and only make things worse. I think most vets would say use the tool that’s best for your dog. That cold be a regular collar, martingale, harness, gentle leader, whatever.

Oh, and there really should be no sudden jolt like impacts to a dogs neck on a collar while walking lol.

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