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!


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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flipbeltWhen you go out running, you always need to carry a few things with you. If you take your dog with you, you need even more. Poop bags are an essential, and they can take up a bit of space. Put a small purse, mobile (or cell) phone, car keys, poop bags and a lip balm into a bum bag (or fanny pack as they are called in the US), and the result is an uncomfortable bouncing mass around the waist. For me, that large chunky mass at the front is so annoying, and it’s enough to take the shine off a run.

There’s a new product on the market that can remedy this situation, and I just had to try it out.  The FlipBelt is a simple, yet ingenious idea. It’s made from a spandex/lycra blend, and designed to fit comfortably so that it will remain in place around the hips. It’s essentially a tubular belt, with multiple openings along it which enable you to slide your items inside and move them along the tube. This allows you to carry all the necessities and spread them around your middle.  I usually have my mobile phone, keys and purse around my back, and the things I need often, such as poop bags and my lip balm, at the front. Because the weight of my bits and pieces is spread evenly around my body, there’s no bounce.

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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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Your Dog’s Post-Workout Plan

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dog-with-face-in-bowlWhen you work out, you’re well aware that you need to have a cool down plan to ensure your body can recover efficiently, but do you have a similar routine in place for your dog? When you’re getting fit alongside your dog, and long runs and brisk walks become a part of each of your daily lives, you should always consider your dog’s post-workout plan. Remember, they need to cool down too!


No doubt a water bottle is a vital necessity for you whilst you’re out running, but it’s important to remember that your dog needs to keep hydrated too. If they’re fit and healthy, they may find running far less gruelling than you, but that’s not to say that they don’t need to stop for a drink just like you do. Whether you’re on a long hike or a half an hour run, take a water bottle containing enough fluid to sustain both you and your dog. You can even buy water bottles that feature a detachable water container for your dog to drink from, so you can ensure they’re able to rehydrate efficiently.

Don’t be tempted to encourage your dog to gulp down as much water as possible though, as this can cause stomach upset or bloating when running. Instead, offer small amounts of water at regular intervals. A good time to stop to rehydrate is when your dog is panting more heavily, but you shouldn’t go for more than a mile without letting them have a drink.

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Categories : Dog Health
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