My #1 training partner is my dog Stella. She’s a beautiful, charming, 2 year old Goldendoodle and there’s nothing better than seeing her half smiling/half panting face looking up at me while we’re out on a run. Talk about a motivator. Now we have two Goldendoodles and I’m excited to bring both of them along as soon as the little one, Doc, is old enough.
Not all dogs are ultramarathoners…(There is one, meet Arthur. Watch this story and if it doesn’t fill up your heart then you must not have one.) but all dogs need exercise and having a dog that you can exercise with is a fun bonus. Here are just a few things I’ve learned over the last couple of years running with my dog.
Bring water. This sounds obvious, but if I’m running outside by myself I usually don’t bring water because I don’t like having an extra thing to carry. I have a little back pack that I bring when I run with Stella, or if I’m driving to a trail I park in a place where I can easily swing by the car to get water for her when she needs it. A little bit of water makes a huge difference in her stamina.
Control. Currently, I still outweigh the dogs but when I start running with both of them it’s going to be close! Doodles are big dogs and they are hyper and jumpy so keeping them under control is imperative. Stella is not aggressive but she wants to play with every dog, person, runner, stroller, that she passes – it gets old. We use a prong collar with Stella and while there are varying opinions on these kinds of collars, we have proper training on its use and have seen vast improvements since we started using it.It has also helped to train her to ignore other dogs that may lunge at her. Someone at the store today actually thought she was a show-dog because of how nice she walks, it must be working!
Know when and where it’s appropriate to have your dog off-leash. I don’t want to get on a soapbox here, but this is one of my biggest pet peeves. In reality, there are not many places at all where it is appropriate to have your dog off-leash. We all believe our dogs are reliable and well behaved, but we can’t account for all external variables. Off-leash dogs in places with leash laws are hazards to themselves, people, and especially other dogs. In situation where an off-leash dog encounters a leashed dog, unexpected territorial and aggressive behavior can come out – I’ve seen it many times. That said, being able to exercise your your dog off-leash can be a treat so find a good dog park and go nuts. One of our faves is Westminster Hills Dog Park.
Temperature affects dogs more than humans. I’ve been very lucky that almost every Sunday during my training this winter the weather was sunny and mild (40’s, 50’s) for my outdoor long runs. Stella does great in that kind of weather. Once the temperature creeps into the 70’s we enter a gray area. While 70° seems like perfect running weather for a lot of us, it’s hot when you have a body covered in wool-like fur. I run outside much more in the summer so that means Stella gets to come more often. To beat the heat, I try run early in the morning when it’s cool and the sprinklers are going, or I take her out for a few miles, drop her off at home and finish up myself.
Pay attention to your dogs energy level and mood. Just like us, they are going to have days that they’re not feeling 100%. Today Stella and I headed off on our normal Sunday run and she started stopping every couple of blocks to lie in the grass. She and Doc were at daycare all day yesterday and that wears them out. (We take them to Sniff Shack, which I highly recommend if you live in Northwest Denver.) Whether she was tired, hot, or a combination of both, I didn’t want to push her so I brought her home and did my run solo this morning.
Have fun! Running with your dog probably isn’t the best time to do speed or endurance work so keep it light. Have fun and enjoy this bonding time. Plus, at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than a sleepy dog.
I was a little bit tired today too. We spent the day at A-Basin yesterday and the altitude (11,000 ft) can really take a toll on your body. Check out what happened to this bag of potato chips on the drive up. Imagine what’s going on in your body! As someone who lives and runs at mile high altitude, I have some first hand experience and would love to know more about the science behind what happens to your body at different altitudes. I’m going to do some more research on this topic and share in a future blog post.