It wasn’t long ago that I published on this blog discussing the pros and cons of getting yourself a training partner. One major problem that I identified was the unfortunate probability that at one time or another that person might let you down and leave you to train alone. The same can’t be said of man’s best friend – dogs are never too tired, they don’t make excuses and their enthusiasm never seems to run out. Does this make them the ideal training partner?
Maybe your dog can’t spot for you in the gym and they definitely won’t be able to reserve you a bench, but when it comes to the ideal running partner dogs have a number of important qualities. When your dog realises that you are about to go on a walk his body fills with excitement. The tail starts wagging, they begin to jump around and they just get that look of pure happiness in their eyes. So if your criticism of training partners is that they don’t share the same amount of enthusiasm and motivation as you, this might be the answer.
There are important things to remember though, whether you are looking to go and purchase a new dog or if you have one already. Not every dog will be suitable to train with so you need to consult your vet. Just as I would advise you to speak to a doctor beforemaking drastic changes to your lifestyle, the same can be said for dogs. It’s far more difficult to know the fitness level of a dog by looking at it than it is when looking at a human. You wouldn’t push somebody who is clearly far more unfit than you are to train at the same level in a gym, so why would you push your dog?
Make sure you consider the breed as well – pugs might be growing in popularity but they would hardly be suitable running partners. If you like running long distances breeds such as retrievers, shepherds and terriers are often ideal. Other breeds may be more suited to shorter distances so make sure you do your research. Generally as the breed of dog gets smaller it will be less suited to running.
Just as keeping hydrated is essential for us when we train, our dogs are no different. You know that you need to be drinking water as you go along and so does your canine. Unfortunately I’m yet to see a water bottle designed for dogs, so make sure that they have plenty to drink before and after a run and maybe consider getting a collapsible water bowl that you can carry as you run.
Imagine if you had to run while you had someone pulling at your neck with a collar. It probably wouldn’t feel too great. So get a harness for your dog when you are running together – this way you can keep them under control without making the experience uncomfortable.
The final thing you need to be wary of is the terrain you are running on. Trainers for dogs aren’t something I have seen either and their paws can be extremely sensitive. Try to avoid debris on the road, like broken glass, and clean your dogs paws once you have finished.
Most of the benefits of training with a human partner are still present if you train with your dog! You will struggle to find any human being that will be there ready to train 24/7, especially with the same level of enthusiasm. And all the other factors that make a great training partner are still there – you still have that responsibilty to help somebody else and you’ve got somebody who will be encouraging you all the way! Dogs being man’s best friend has been said thousands of times, let’s give them the nickname of being man’s best training parnter instead!