Why Run With Your Dog?

Personal training for dogs. You’re kidding, right? Actually, no, we’re not. Research suggests up to 40% of our dogs are overweight, and they suffer from the same health complications that overweight people do. Veterinarians (including myself) are becoming more and more concerned about the increase in joint pain, heart disease and other obesity related illnesses in dogs. Hence, Pooch to 5k. Dogs can’t lift weights, or use the gym. If you’re going to increase their fat burning, you need to increase the intensity of their exercise. This means that a daily stroll just won’t cut it any more, it’s too laid back. The Pooch to 5k program will help you get your dog from doing nothing much to comfortably running 5km, over a period of 12 weeks.

Because you’ll be running with your dog, you’ll also get a great workout three times a week, as you train yourself to run 5km. Why not subscribe to our dog health and fitness newsletter and grab your dog, and you’re ready to go!

Archive for General

Aug
19

A Cartoon for You

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Who else has to deal with this when they run with their dog?

Fly With Dogs

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Aug
25

Don’t Run Before You Can Walk!

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man-being-dragged-by-dogSometimes, running with your dog just doesn’t seem to go according to plan. Your dog might lag behind, or he might want to stop after just a few kilometres or he may even run in front and trip you up. All of these can take the pleasure out of sharing a run with your four legged buddy. So what can you do about these problems? In a nutshell, it all boils down to training.

Any behaviour has a reason behind it: a dog might react in a certain way in a particular situation because of fear, excitement, previous training, or because of an innate breed-related behavioural characteristic. Dogs are also very good at picking up on cues you give them, and they learn what’s going to happen next. That’s why lots of dogs get excited when they see their lead – they know they’ll be going out. If you’re trying to train your dog to run well with you, then it’s worth considering bringing in one or two new cues which he will learn to associate specifically with running. You might use a running harness he doesn’t wear at any other time, or you might choose a really tasty food treat that you never give him except when you’re running. Over time, your dog will learn what’s expected of him when that particular harness or treat is in use.

A border collie’s herding instinct could get in the way of your running because she might keep trying to run around you – to round you up. She might not do this with anyone else in the park; because you are her “flock” it’s you she wants to herd. Border collies can be trained to drive sheep ahead of them, so in this situation I’d encourage her to run just behind you so she can herd you from behind. Every time she gets ahead, stop her, and ask her to continue once you’re a step ahead again. You’ll need to start this at walking pace before moving up a gear. Alternatively, go back to basics and train her to walk at heel then gradually increase your pace while always rewarding her for staying calmly by your side.

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Jan
11

Canine Cross Training Ideas

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dog-swimmingExercise is a vital part of your dog’s life! Besides providing health benefits, regular exercise gives your dog a chance to release their pent up energy, which can eliminate a lot of problematic behaviours like chewing, digging, or barking. It’s a win, win!

Probably the easiest workout to start with your dog is walking or running with your dog on a leash. This is fantastic and can certainly help your dog (and you!) reap wonderful health benefits. However, just like with humans, dogs can benefit greatly from cross training and adding other types of activities into their exercise routine.

Here are some cross training ideas that can benefit you and your dog.

Strength and Obedience Training with your Dog – Depending on your dog’s temperament and size, you can do several sets of exercises before or after your walk or run to add some strength training to your workout. While you squat and stand, encourage your dog to sit and stand too, so he uses his back legs while you do. If you have a small dog, you can actually use them as resistance to do bicep curls or chest presses. This tends to benefit you more than him. If your dog is too big to be held, you can work with them to hold a sit or down position while you do your exercise sets. For your legs, hold a small dog to your chest while you do a wall sit. If your dog a bit big for this, do the wall sit and put his paws on your legs while you hold the position. A great all over toning move is a plank. You can do a plank and have your dog work to hold a down position next to you on your mat.

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Dog leashIf you wander down the leash aisle at your local pet store you’ll see a huge range of leashes and collars on display; it’s not easy to choose which one to use when you’re out running with your dog. You may have seen people walking with a retractable leash – a handle with an extendible cord that attaches to your dog’s collar or harness, and which can be extended and retracted with the push of a button, depending on how close he is to you.

I’ve only ever walked Guinness on a retractable leash once. It was a freebie that came with his packet of heartworm pills or flea control treatment, so I thought I’d give it a go. I didn’t like it at all for running. The handle felt clunky and awkward. The cord of the leash became wrapped around my leg and gave me a nasty friction burn.

Given that the advisory committee to the mayor of Philadelphia is hoping to have the sale of these leashes banned within the city, I decided to look into why these leashes are popular.

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Nov
06

Bursting the Big Backyard Myth

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backyardDo dogs really need a big back yard? Is more space beneficial to them? Having been involved a bit in dog rescue, I’ve seen a number of conditions an owner has to meet before being considered as an adoptive parent. One of these, particularly for working type dogs, is that they must have a big backyard.

In my opinion, the size of your back yard is not at all important. We have shared our lives with two active Australian Cattle Dogs in the past, living on a small suburban block, and they were very happy dogs indeed.

We all know that our canine friends need plenty of exercise to stay physically fit and mentally healthy. However, many people are under the impression that having a big backyard for their dog to run in automatically equates to their pup getting enough exercise each day. I don’t believe dogs are inclined to run around their backyard on their own enough to give them the amount of exercise they need. Just ask Guinness and Cinnabar, they stroll into our half acre back yard and immediately find a sunny spot to doze in.

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file000119318946[1]Q: I’ve been looking around for suggestions that might help me and my 4yo whippet.  She’s been with me just 6 months and is healthy and active and great on the lead.  We’ve been working up to running 5km together (I’m a slow half-marathon runner, my 5km time is 25-30 mins).  She runs beautifully for the first half of the run then lags horribly, at full stretch of the lead, behind me, most of the way back.  It doesn’t matter what the distance is – she will run 4km in one direction, but lag after 2km if we turn around.  I’ve tried running circuitous loops but I can’t fool her. I’ve also varied the time of day, our routine when we get home, the pee-breaks we stop for, whether I give her lots of verbal encouragement or not.  Nothing seems to make any difference.  She does not do the same thing on walks, or when running beside my husband on his bike.

Also, last weekend I did a 5km fun run with her and she was perfect the whole way!  I guess being around other runners motivated her?!

Any ideas gratefully received!  She has other exercise options, including short sprints in the park which obviously is the natural thing for a whippet, but I’d love to work through the running thing with her if we can. Read More→

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