Exercising with your dog: Part 1
By far the most effective way to ensure a happy, healthy, calm, and obedient dog is to provide adequate opportunities for exercise. Many dogs, especially pit bull type dogs, are athletic and intelligent. Without proper avenues for physical and mental exercise, your dog will look for other ways to spend their time. Without guidance on acceptable outlets for their energy, this can lead to bad habits and undesirable behaviors (i.e. pulling on the leash when walking, jumping/barking to get your attention, chewing on furniture, etc). Lucky for us, the key to discouraging many of these behaviors is simple … physically and mentally challenge your dog. Even luckier for us, this is easy to do and can help work off some of those holiday cookies and adult sodas! With this in mind, I will occasionally write about ways to exercise your dog. If you have any tips we can learn from, please chime in!
Today I’ll start out with the simplest way you can exercise with your dog … jogging. I even found a cool article that discusses the best dogs for running and guess who is the #2 dog for distances less than 6 miles according to Runner’s World … pit bulls!
Jogging with your dog is a great way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air after spending the day in a stuffy office. In addition to that, it keeps you both healthy and is a great opportunity to bond together. Running not only provides the physical exercise your dog needs, but by teaching your dog to pay attention to you and heel as you run, it gives ol’ Ruffus the sense of having a job and satisfies the need for mental activity.
Before I go any further, I want to emphasize the importance of running safely with your dog. There are many resources on the internet and in bookstores for how to do this, and I encourage you to investigate them. A few quick highlights include: always keep your dog on a leash and away from traffic, watch for signs that your dog is tiring (excessive panting, slowing down, glossy eyes, foaming mouth, etc), keep your dog well hydrated, and start slow to build endurance and strengthen paw pads which may not be ready for that 10-miler you want to jump into. Also, running with younger/older dogs may not be the best idea, so please check with your vet if you have any concerns.
Reese has been running with us for a few years now, so he is a real pro. We started out slow with him and now he stays by our side and completely ignores potential distractions. I like to give him about 3-4 ft. of loose leash and wrap the rest around my hand. This way you can quickly wind/unwind the leash around your fist if you need to give more/less slack.
McMuffin is still learning the ropes, but has done a great job in a short time and will be ready for full-time runner status in no time! Try not to get discouraged if your dog doesn’t seem to pick it up immediately. Running can be very exciting when you first start out and you may have to spend some time getting into a groove without constant pulling and slowing down. If this is totally new to your dog, they may also try to jump and get your attention to make sure what they are doing is correct. Just stay patient and keep a steady pace … pretty soon they will figure out what the task is and fall in line.
And after a nice little jog around the neighborhood … you can sit back and relax with your sleepy and well-behaved pup!
Good luck and feel free to ask any questions, provide tips you find helpful, or share stories of your success!