His name is Marshal and he's a Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie, for short. No, his name is not Lassie and he is not a Collie. Shelties are herd dogs like Collies but they're like the smaller version. I have four other dogs. A Shih-tzu, a Yorkshire Terrier, a Chihuahua, and a Mini Poodle. All of them are small breeds. A Sheltie is also considered a small breed but Marshall is the biggest among the 5 fur babes. Which makes him the best choice for a running buddy. Shelties make good running partners because they are herd dogs. So, today, I woke up early and took Marshall with me for my recovery run.
I don't really run in the morning but I thought this would be the best time to take my dog with me since there will be no cars at this time. It just finished raining when we stepped out so the weather and pavement was pretty cool. Perfect! Dogs are suppose to walk/run on our left side. That's how it's suppose to be and that's how he was trained.
On our first few meters, I could feel Marshal's excitement. He was 2 steps ahead of me. I tugged on the leash and said "heel". (Heeling is when your dog walks calmly on your left with his head next to your left heel. He will not be trying to run ahead or off to the side, and he will not be yanking as hard as he can at the leash to pull you along). I believe I had to do this twice only and he immediately remembered his training.
When we hit 1.5K, I felt he was getting tired already so I handed him back to our helper so he could rest and have his breakfast. I need to help him build his endurance; break him in slowly, just as I did when I started running. Will give it another go this weekend. I have to say, that was fun! And I'm pretty sure Marshall had a swell time too. Let me state the obvious. Dogs love to run. There is no doubt about that. I would suggest having a dog as a running partner to everyone who owns a canine. But before you grab his leash, here are some more tips for running with your dog:
- Make sure that your dog is built for running. Dogs that are bred for work or sport are physically well suited to running. Some examples are Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Dobermans, German Shepherd, Collies and Shelties. Dogs like Shih-tzus, pugs and bulldogs may have a hard time breathing and short-legged dogs like Basset Hounds and Dachshunds may have a hard time running. Make sure he is at least a year old or full grown. Running when he's still growing can do some damage to his bones and muscles.
- Take him to the veterinarian and have him checked (his heart, lungs, joints, for other orthopedic problems, etc.); making sure there are no conditions that would limit him.
- Even if your dog is obedient or trained to run unleashed, still, keep him leashed. If is for his protection (and yours). Your dog may suddenly want to "greet" another animal or person. In high traffic areas, your dog might get hit by a vehicle.
- Start out slowly and build up endurance with short distances. Warm him up by walking first, followed by a short jog. Let him cool down with a walk at the end.
- Mind the ground you're running on. Your dog can't wear Nikes or Mizunos like us humans. He is running on his own pads. His pads are part of his perspiration system. Your dog cools down by panting and sweating through the pads. He won't be able to cool down as much if the ground is too hot. Also, if he's been spending his time mostly indoors, the pads will most likely be soft. Let pads toughen up by gradually increasing his mileage per week. If you do too much too soon, his pads may crack and bleed. Ouch! =(
- Keep a close eye on his level of fatigue. Dogs are eager to please. They'll ignore or even be unaware of pain. If he shows signs of excessive over-heating or discomfort, (excessive panting, vomiting, drooling) slow down and walk or stop and let him drink some water and pour cool or tepid (not cold) water on his body and pads.