Schooner’s First 10K
I’ve talked about my adventures in running in past articles. How I got started running, how running is a lot like dog training, and how training for a race is exactly like training your dog.
Last year, I was up for an adventure, so I took Schooner, my Great Dane, to a local Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning.
Schooner did a great job running his first race.
So this year we’re going to enter some other dog-friendly races. We’re doing the Turkey Trot again, and looking to find a couple more races we can run with the Schoons.
I’ve been running with Schooner for about a year now and he set a new record for himself: he ran his very first 10K! It was a training run for me (my husband and I have a bunch of races coming up, but I’m training specifically for a 10K in April).
Schooner has done 5.75 miles, but this one was a full 10K (6.2 miles). The weather was nice — not too hot, some cloud cover — and he’d been somewhat stir crazy over the weekend, so I took him with me. He did a great job, I don’t think he even felt the 6 miles — he was ready to race around the backyard when we got home.
Dogs aren’t welcome at a lot of races — and for good reason.
Races are competitive events. Running with a dog can be dangerous if he isn’t trained well, especially if you’re in a large group of runners. There is also dog-etiquette to be aware of if you want to stay on the good side of fellow runners. In addition, I think it’s important to think about health and conditioning issues for your dog, as well. I’m not a veterinarian, so I’ll leave that up to the experts. I strongly encourage you to check with your veterinarian before you start running with your dog to make sure your dog is healthy and can withstand the rigors of running.
This post is about what kind of training your dog should have so that you can both run safely (whether in a race, on the road, or on the trail).
Leash manners is an important skill to teach any dog, but especially a dog who’s going to run with you.
You don’t want your dog to pull you — that’s a recipe for disaster. You could be pulled into traffic, you could fall and injure yourself, and you could really tick off other runners. Here are some articles (with video!) to help teach your dog great leash manners. Start here, then go to this step, and finish with this one.
Another running skill your dog should have is attention to you.
It’s crucial that you can get your dog’s attention quickly whenever you need it. For instance, if you’re running the roads and you see something ahead that you’d like to avoid, you can call your dog’s name, safely cross the street, and continue your run uninterrupted. I wrote an article and made a video demonstrating how to teach the basics of attention. Schooner, the Great Dane is also the star of the second article and video in the series working on advanced attention.
You may think that because you run alone or out on lonely trails, that it’s ok that your dog isn’t so friendly to other dogs or to people.
I can confirm that those “empty” trails aren’t always empty. Sometimes I’m on them. I can’t tell you the number of times people have said to me “I never see anyone here!” as they’re frantically begging their off-leash dog (a huge pet-peeve of mine that I’ll get to in the next article…) to come back to them and to leave me alone. Some trails are narrow, sidewalks can be crowded, and running routes can be tight. If your dog isn’t friendly to people, don’t take him running in public. If your dog isn’t so great with other dogs, leave him home. You may go out 99 times and not run across another person or dog. But that one time you do, and your dog bites someone or gets into a dog fight, will be the one that really matters (angry runner, injured dog, potential lawsuit, etc.).
Fellow “runs with dogs” runners, what training tasks have I missed? What other behavior and training concepts should I include?
Stay tuned, my next article will focus on etiquette when you run with your dog.