Rupert was apparently quite jealous that Oswald had his own blog section, so I relented and included a section for Rupert-themed blogs as well. There will be many blogs about Rupert in general, mostly concerning training, but this particular section is dedicated to something both Rupert and I love- running.
Now, I feel as though I should preface this blog post by stating that you should check with your vet before beginning a running regimen with your dog, especially younger dogs. It is generally recommended that young dogs do not partake in a specific running regimen with their owners, as they need to wait for their bones to fully develop and their growth plates to ossify. Bones in larger breed dogs usually take longer to ossify, so it is usually good to wait until your dog is at least 1- 1 1/2 years old before you start a running program with them.
Based on (our best estimations of) Rupert’s breeding, he is a Black-and-Tan Coonhound or Beagle/Hound mix. Both Coonhounds and Beagles were originally bred to run after various furry creatures that their owners were hunting, such as rabbits, foxes, coons, deer, etc. These dogs are able to run for miles and miles while tracking an animal, so running is certainly in their genetics. This running-based breeding can actually cause behavioral issues for them when they are in a family home environment and are not exercised enough (but that’s for another post). These breeds can be great running partners for owners, if done properly.
Rupert is currently almost 6 months old, which most people would agree is too young to start a specific running program with him. However, if given the freedom to run at his own pace, light runs can be used to burn some excess puppy energy and provide good training opportunities. Until Rupert reaches full size, he won’t be accompanying be on runs more than about 1.5 miles, but until them I will take him on my shorter runs. This is a typical run for him and I:
- Walk to the levee (bike path by the Mississippi River) on leash.
- Once we reach the levee, I make Rupert sit, let him off leash, and make him wait for my command to continue on.
- I carry his leash with me and tell him to “come” as I start at a light jog down the path.
- Rupert is happy to trot along side me, but is also able to stop and sniff patches of grass or chase a bird or two as he sees fit. This also allows him to vary his pace and have moments of stopping and sprinting which he naturally does when he plays/runs off leash anyway.
- Once we reach the bridge, we stop, have a swim (him, not I), and then jog back the same way.
I consider these runs our training runs. It is a great way to re-enforce the off-leash training that I have been doing with Rupert, but also get him accustomed to running with me. Many times during the run I will call him back to me, give him a treat, and then send him off again. Other times, I will call him back to me and then just stop without warning, at which point he is also to stop and sit down. This not only keeps him on his toes and focused on me while he’s having fun, but is also necessary for times when we encounter the occasional cyclist and I need to move him off to the side. I do not consider this a stressful running regimen for him, as he runs at the pace he would normally run at when he is left off-leash and we are not covering a longer distance than our normal walks. This length also gives us just enough time for a good training session, but then we finish before it gets redundant for him.
Once he is fully grown, I will take him on longer runs (luckily the levee path follows the river for miles!), but for now I/ we are enjoying our short training runs. It’s a good training session that wears him out and gets me moving also. I have begun training for a half marathon in October, but unfortunately most of my training runs will be far too long for Rupert. However, I think by this time next year he will probably be my #1 training partner.
Do you run with your dog? Have you ever completed a race with you dog? I’d love to hear your stories and tips!