Oh boy do I have exciting news! After years of wanting a dog, we finally fell head over heels for a little guy. After a long period of careful research and scouring shelters around the Chicagoland area, we found the perfect match. Meet Louie Z., named after the great Louis Zamperini.
Louie was born in Kentucky and brought to the Chicago area in September as a group of three litters of puppies who were very sick with Parvo. He spent the last few months in quarantine and went from a measly 8 pounds to a whopping 27 to date. Because he was such a strong survivor and we have high hopes of having him join us soon on our runs, we decided to name him after a great runner and infamous survivor.
Louie is still just a bit too young to start running but there are a few things you can do to prepare almost any dog for the sport.
First you need to wait until puppies are developed. Depending on the breed you should wait 6 months for smaller dogs and up to a year for larger breeds. You never want to place too much stress on their bones or joints as they are growing. This is especially important for breeds such as Labradors or German Shepherds that tend to have hip issues. Just as you should consult your doctor before beginning exercise, you should talk to your veterinarian as well.
Before a dog can run with you they must be able to heel. This means that you need to train a dog to walk on a leash at your side without pulling. Most people would recommend that dogs heel on your left side. Your dog should be able to walk comfortably with you and not pull at the leash. This is essential for the safety of both of you when running.
Make sure your dog knows other essential commands such as sit, stay, and come. Before you go running it is best that your dog knows basic commands. If your dog cannot sit on command or come back to you it is probably best that you hold off on running together.
Treat your dog just like any new runner. You wouldn’t take a new runner out for a 5 mile run for the first time. Ease them into it. Start with a half mile run and slowly build mileage over time. Be aware of the elements. Dogs get dehydrated in heat and need water. During the winter the cold concrete and salt can crack their paws. Plan ahead and equip your dog properly.
Always be the pack leader. Don’t let your dog lead you. Make sure you have your dog at your side and use the “heel” command at all times.
Never tie the leash around you or on your wrist. Dogs are by nature likely to do unexpected things. They can see another dog or animal or be spooked by a stranger. An unexpected jerk by Fido can lead to a serious injury for you or your dog. Safety is always the number one concern.
Dogs are wonderful companions. One of the most touching things I ever read was David Willey’s (editor of Runner’s World) tribute to his best friend and running partner . Check it out but bring tissues.
Do you have a special running partner? Canine or human?