Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Training With Your Dog

In case you didn't know, I'm training for my first marathon.  I'm running to raise money for Henrico Humane Society.  To learn more about it, visit here.

Anyway, I'm training with Cody.  Now, due to heat throughout the summer, Cody has had to skip some of the longer runs, but he has run 7+ miles with me, and this is quite an accomplishment.  Seven miles isn't easy for anyone, but when you're also in daycare 5 days a week, 7 miles could be dangerous.  So, in case you're interested in running with your dog, I'm providing some tips for training with your dog.

1) Ease into it.   You didn't go from 0 miles to 20 miles overnight, and neither should your dog.  If your dog is new to running, start with just walking him.  Build up to running short distances and gradually increase distance and pace.  I was lucky.  Cody started training with me when I was first attempting a 5k.  I could barely run a mile, and that was at a slow pace.  Cody trained the entire time, and he even ran my first 5k race with me.  When I decided to start working towards a 10k, Cody trained with me for that as well.  He's basically been with me the whole way.  I'm a little farther ahead of him now, but I know he could easily catch up.

2) Hydrate- You know how, on a long run, it's important for you to hydrate before, during, and after?  Guess what.  The same is true for your dog!  Since dogs are built a little differently than people, and shouldn't take on a whole lot of water while running, hydration before is really key.  I actually heard a really great trick the other day to help your dog stock up on electrolytes AND water.  A few hours before your run, have your dog drink a bit of chicken broth (not too much as this will upset his tummy).  Chicken broth is salty, so this will encourage your dog to drink a little more water.  Slow down his water intake about an hour before your run, so he doesn't end up with intestinal issues.  During your run, you can let him have some water, but not full bowls.  That could cause him to get sick.

3) Fuel- Yep, food is important too.  I will sometimes bring a small snack for Cody (i.e. give him a few bites of what I'm having), but his daily nutrition is important too.  Cody is on a fairly high protein diet, with few fillers, and he gets lots of food.  He'll eat anywhere between 2 and 8 cups of  food a day with lots of snacks in between.

4) Crosstrain- It is important for your dog to strengthen other parts of his body as well.  If your dog plays well with others, day care can help with that, but there are quite a few other useful activities as well.  Cody loves swimming and he practices some mild agility from time to time.  Swimming, of course, is a great work out for him, and agility helps with focus, strength, and balance.

5) Rest- Some dogs can run 20 miles and feel like it was just a warm up.  Other dogs run 2 and feel like they're about to die.  If your dog needs a rest, let him rest.  Occasionally give him a day off.  Yesterday, Cody and I ran 3 miles together and then Cody came to the daycare with me.  This morning, Cody wanted to sleep in, so he got the morning off, while I ran 7 miles.  He was simply too tired to go for any sort of run.

6) Stretch- Dogs need to stretch out, just like people do.  The internet is very useful for finding different stretches for your dog, but I also encourage people to look into Doga.  It's quite useful and relaxing.  You may also want to look into other sorts of care for your dog as well, such as massage, chiropractic care, or acupuncture.  Your dog can have aches and pains just like you do.  He just can't tell you how or where it hurts.

As always, consult a licensed veterinarian before attempting any sort of exercise / diet with your dog.  If, however, you take care of your dog's needs, you'll end up with a terrific running companion.


  1. Hello,
    I have a question about my 5 year old chihuahua mix so I hope it's alright if I ask here. We've had our dog for a year and we adopted her. She suffers from fear aggression and chewing tendencies, but she's always been housebroken. Recently she's begun to pee in her bed. I've heard that dogs don't normally do this and that people say that something is wrong. I'm not sure if I should be concerned; this is really odd behavior for her. We moved over a month ago and i'm not sure if it's the change in the environment, but if it is, why did she wait a month to start doing this? She also recently peed on my bed, where she sleeps most nights. Should I be worried? I appreciate your help!


    1. Hi Tara,

      The has she been urinating more frequently as well? Have you noticed any odd odor in her urine? Does she seem to be feeling well otherwise? Has her schedule changed recently or has she peed anywhere other than your bed and her bed?

      The first thing I'm prone to think when a house trained dog begins urinating in unusual locations is urinary tract infection. It could be something behavior related as stress can also cause urination issues with a dog, but I would take her to your vet first. Once you're certain it's nothing medical, you can look at behavior options.

      Otherwise, help your girl to relax with calming massages, soothing sounds (classical music has been shown to have some effects), and aromatherapy. Oh, and don't forget to make sure she gets plenty of exercise!

    2. Hello!
      Thank you for your insight! Her urine doesn't seem to smell different (though to be honest I haven't gotten too close!) She does currently have the fleas, but those came after the peeing. She hasn't done it since but currently she refuses to go potty in our little back yard area. She will only go if we take her out for a walk. The UTI seems likely but she hasn't peed in the house since our last post. And she seems to feel fine, other than being more sleepy than usual on occasion and an increase in whining. Any more insights?

      Thanks again!

    3. I have two other thoughts. My first would be that this is actually a marking behavior. She's a little stressed and is showing off that this is her area.

      My second thought is still related to stress. Some dogs will pee in their owner's beds as a way to cover their scent. If they're nervous, they will pee in an area where your scent (the protecting scent) will cover their own. Since she's also peeing in her bed, this is probably a bit of a long shot, but it's not necessarily impossible.

      If she hasn't had any more issues for a while, I really wouldn't worry about it. She may have gotten whatever she was feeling out of her system. However, if this behavior starts again, I would focus on relieving her stress, either through training or through other methods (e.g. soothing sounds, massage, exercise, etc.).

      Good luck with everything!