The issue most people have with running is a simple one: it can get boring pretty quick. With nothing to concentrate on for what can turn out to be a lengthy period of time, many will turn to physical activities that are more engaging. Training your dog to run with you is one way of making runs more bearable: seeing your canine friend struggle by your side while still enjoying the race is sure to provide more amusement than checking your phone mid-race. Unfortunately, dogs can be lazy, disobedient or simply too energetic to control. Therefore, training one to run with you takes a lot more effort than putting it on a leash and hoping for the best.
Why dogs can make great running companions
Like with humans, running is in every dog’s nature – most dogs will love running alongside their owners if the latter are patient enough to train them for it.
Furthermore, many modern-day dogs face risks due to reduced activity (with obesity being a prominent one) – running with your dog is a great way to keep it in shape and ward off illnesses.
But how do you do it? Well, a reward system should work well enough – bring your dog’s favorite snacks to the track and reward it when appropriate. The goal is to have your dog trail you constantly – while letting your dog run past you can be fun, it will ultimately rob the animal of its focus and cause it to run off on its own all the time. But, be aware that your dog may need to stop at certain points during the run to relive himself on the nearest tall tree.
Other than verbal commands, positioning and repositioning your dog in the correct position also helps explain what it should do. Eventually, your instructions will be minimal and the dog will follow you on its own – indeed, running with your dog with no leash and without the dog ever straying off course should be your ultimate goal.
What to keep in mind when training
Before even starting to train your dog for running, the first thing you should keep in mind is its body type and overall conditioning. Some dogs are able to run much faster and for much greater distances than others – if your dog is a bit slower, trying to force it to run too fast or too long will end up creating a bad experience for the both of you.
Aside from the dog’s breed, you should also take note of the individual state of its body: this includes weight, conditioning, muscular development and any history of illnesses that the dog could have. The last part is especially important: there are multiple illnesses that can render a dog unfit for running.
Lastly, don’t forget that different dogs have different personalities. While some dogs might love the idea of running with their owners and will gladly follow every instruction, others will have a harder time adjusting to the commands and might require extra work. If your dog falls in the latter category, you must take its personality into account when doing the training – beating or scaring your dog into obedience will lessen your results and ultimately take the fun out of the activity.