HEALTHY RUNNING AGES FOR WEIMARANERS:
0-1 year Walking
1-2 years Slow Run
2-7 years Run
8-9 years Slow Run
9+ years Walking
WHY RUN WITH YOUR WEIMARANER?
Starting to run on a regular basis has enormous benefits for your health and happiness.
Not only will you physically feel good, but you will also have the satisfaction of being an athlete.
Why not share the benefits of exercise with your dog? Just like us, our dogs really benefit from staying in great shape. They will feel good, look good, and live longer.
Having a canine running partner can really help with motivation, safety, and improves the relationship between you and your dog.
Running with a dog is a great way to increase your motivation to run on a regular basis.
My dog Franklin knows which shoes are my running shoes, and if I dont put them on first thing in the morning he pouts at me.
I cant handle those big eyes and their guilty looks, so I run with him every morning.
Weimaraners are very energetic dogs and have a tendency to get destructive if they dont have an outlet for their energy.
Running with your weimaraner is a perfect outlet, not only because of the exercise, but also because it establishes you as the leader.
Running properly next to you, your dog will learn to listen and follow you even with distractions.
It will also leave your dog calm and relaxed and less likely to be mischievous during the day.
There isnt a right way to run with a dog, but there is a basic position, a few commands,
and some ways to deal with distractions that will make it easier and more enjoyable.
To get started:
1) Use a relatively short (4-6 ft) leash (NOT a retractable one!) and your dogs regular collar.
Take up any extra leash length by making a loop in your hand. Having a little extra can help when your dog starts lagging behind, stops to relieve himself, or you want him to follow directly behind you (see Helpful Commands)
2) Position your dog on your left side, with your left leg in-line with his head and neck.
Try not to let your dog get any farther a head of you than his front shoulders in-line with your leg.
If your dog is in the lead, he is the leader and you will have a much harder time controlling him.
If you are the leader during the run you will also be the leader back at home.
3) Staying in control is crucial during your run. If you loose control your dog will be easily distracted, wont listen to your commands, and will pull on the leash.
The fear of not being in control is a major reason why more people dont run with their dogs.
If you struggle with your confidence, concentrate on something that makes you feel good about yourself.
Think about how awesome you and your dog look while you run.
Think about how good you are going to feel all day because you ran.
Think about how guilty you make everyone you meet feel because you are out running and they arent.
They wish they were as awesome as you.
4) Corrections in the form of a quick tug on the leash and a verbal command will get your dogs attention and let him know that he isnt doing what you want.
Quick corrections also remind the dog that you are the leader, not him. (see Dealing with Distractions).
Similarly, using a few treat rewards (2-3 per run) when your dog is in the right position and paying particularly good attention will also reinforce your leadership and let him know he is behaving correctly.
1) Heel is the only required command that your dog really needs to know when you run, and honestly not all dogs even need it. My sister’s Blue Heeler just trots along at her side, no matter what. My dog was HORRIBLE at heel before we started running, and honestly still isnt fantastic if we are just walking.
Our running pace means that he has to pay more attention to where we are going than what is going on around him. To teach your dog heel while you run, all you have to do is wait for him to get out of position, then give him a quick tug on the leash and say heel. Pretty soon (after a few runs, depending on the dog), you wont need the tug, just the word.
You can also add a treat reward after your dog gets back into position, but that might encourage your dog to get out of position so that he can get a treat and it requires taking A LOT of treats with you until you get it mastered.
2) Street is a great optional command if you find yourself running on a sidewalk with the street on your left and need to get around an obstacle, i.e., construction, a person, garbage can, poorly parked car, mud, or icy patch. This command is a lot like changing lanes in traffic. It works like this: a few strides before the obstacle, give the command street, and then straighten your left arm (leash arm) out to the left. This arm position will pull your dogs collar to the left and he will follow, stepping off the curb and into the street.
DONT FORGET to CHECK for TRAFFIC FIRST! Because you are going to be stepping toward your dog, it is also very important that you pay attention to his position. A few months after learning this command, I used it to pass a woman who was walking on the sidewalk in front of me, but when I said street, Franklin jumped only into the gutter and not out onto the street. Because I wasnt paying attention, I tripped over him and fell on top of him. I scraped both my knees, my right palm and elbow, and seriously bruised my pride. The woman never even turned to see what all the noise was. If you are running on a sidewalk with the street on your right, you dont need the command; because your dog isnt in your way, you can just step off the sidewalk and he has to follow along.
3) Left is similar to street but instead of being just a lane change, we are going to make a sharp left turn.
This is great for turning into driveways or up streets. When your dog is in the heel position, he is directly to your left.
If you just turn, he wont have time to shift his momentum and will run into you. Teach left just like you do heel or street. Just before turning a sharp left, say left and pretty soon your dog will remember the command. It also helps to take up any slack in the leash and make sure you are in the lead before you make the turn.
4) I rarely use switch, but it is handy if you run on a busy path or want to avoid a distraction. In the US, people naturally walk on the right side of a path or sidewalk (probably because we drive on the right side of the road).
If your dog is heeling on your left, he is going to be between you and any oncoming foot or bike traffic. This is too much temptation for some dogs, and they will pull, stop, or jump onto the poor unsuspecting pedestrian.
Switch tells the dog to switch from your left to right side so that you will have some extra control in such a situation.
To teach switch, use the command, then using a treat lure or just the leash, guide your dog to fall behind you and cross to the other side. Its good to practice this one a few times before you actually use it when you meet someone so that your dog is ready when the time comes. Your dog will also be more likely to listen to the command if you use it several strides before you meet the pedestrian.
Personally, I like to run on the left side of the sidewalk (with Franklin next to the curb) when I am going to meet someone. It is rare that the oncoming traffic wont switch also. If there isnt room for all of us to meet, I use follow.
5) Follow is great for narrow sidewalks or trails. It is easiest to teach when you can run with a barrier such as a wall, gutter, or hedge on your left. Just give the command and lure your dog with a treat or squeeze him against the barrier so that he moves into position directly behind you. Then reward him with the treat or praise. Most dogs dont like it when they cant see where they are going, so I suggest making your dog follow for a only few seconds at a time at first and then gradually working up to staying in the position for longer times.
DEALING WITH DISTRACTIONS
During every run your dog will have multiple opportunities to be distracted from his job, which is to run politely by your side. During our morning run Franklin is tempted by no less than 12 dogs barking, howling, jumping, pacing, and circling behind open-bar fences, plus the occasional cat, slow to take-off pigeons, bicyclists, pedestrians, children playing, other runners, and countless dogs barking that we cant see behind enclosed fences and walls.
The best way to deal with distractions is to stay calm and confident. If you dont make it a big deal, your dog wont think it is a big deal.
But, as soon as you put undue tension on the leash your dog will take over as the leader and lead you to the distraction.
You can prepare yourself for this by knowing where these distractions will crop up and have a plan for when they do.
Our problem spot is a open-bar gate next to the sidewalk with four howling beagles behind it. because I know where they are I reinforce heel before they can see us, and put as much room as possible between them and Franklin. Because I have a plan I stay calm, confident, and therefore in control.
Some distractions are over pretty quickly, like meeting a bicyclist or running past someone.
A good trick to deal with quick distractions like this is to run faster so that your dog doesnt have time to get out of position.
Another trick is to command a good heel just before the distraction (or during if you dont have any warning). heel will remind the dog who is leading.
The worst of all distractions: The loose dog. On occasion dogs get loose along our running course. This is the worst distraction because it makes us nervous. We dont know what the dog will do, and of course fear the worst; that the dog is going to chase us, which it probably will. Now, do we try to find the owner?
This decision has to be made based on a few factors;
1) do you know the owner? Or the house the dog escaped from?
2) Are there other people around that are trying to take care of the situation?
3) How big is the dog? Small dogs dont tend to go much farther than their own yard.
4) Do you think the dog is in harms way? Is he on a busy street or secluded neighborhood?
5) Does the dog get out ALL of the TIME? After running into the same German Sheppard and returning it to its owners every other day for a week and a half I finally threatened to call animal control.
The dog just wanted to play with Franklin, but we werent that far from a busy street.
Poor thing was probably just jealous that Franklin gets to go for a run every day while he is locked up behind a fence.
Be prepared for mistakes, they ARE going to happen, especially in the beginning.
Running with your dog is an ongoing training process. It gets easier every time you go, and the more often you go.
If I skip a few days, it takes us a run or two to get back into the swing of things and to get Franklins energy level back to normal.
The important thing is not to get frustrated, if a mistake happens and your dog gets out of control, keep running!
Its the best way to regain control and your confidence. Try to forget about the mistake and focus on how great you are going to do.
ADDED SAFETY CONCERNS
Having a canine running partner also means adding some safety concerns for you and your dog.
If you are a runner and want to add your dog to your running program, remember that he is just a beginner and will need to ease into it.
Your dog will need to build up his endurance just like you did. If you are just starting to run your dog (especially if its a weimaraner) might be able to out run you already.
If you dog is older or overweight they might need more training than you. Just be conscience of your dogs health and energy level and watch for signs of over-exertion. If you think your dog is getting tired, stop. Check your dog out after you run. It is normal for dogs to be extra playful for a few minutes after the run, If he curls up and sleeps as soon as you get done with a run, you are pushing him too far.
When you run with your dog you are responsible for the safety of both of you! This means you have to be aware of your surroundings, especially traffic. Because you are running you are moving faster than most pedestrians, so drivers think they have more time to pass in front of you than they do, even when you are in a cross walk. Franklin and I have had several close calls because of drivers making a free-right on red at a traffic light when we are already in the intersection and people pulling out of drive ways.
free-righters might not be able to see you if you are running toward them from their left and there are other people stopped at the intersection or they dont realize what a speedy runner you are. Watch for people backing out of drive ways and pulling out onto the street from parking lots, especially if there are buildings near the street that might hide you.
These dangers are best if avoided, but if you cant avoid them completely lessen your risk by spending as little time as possible in the danger zone, in other words RUN FASTER through intersections and past hidden driveways! You can also lessen your risk by wearing bright / reflective clothing. Dont forget to do the same for your dog; consider light up collars and reflective vests for your dog.
If you are going to run on the street make sure that you are on a very low traffic street, or in a bike lane and run with your dog between you and the sidewalk. Do NOT run with your dog next to traffic! He is shorter than you, and drivers cant see him. And he might get distracted and veer into traffic. If Franklin looks over his right shoulder his body veers to the left (which would be into traffic).
Likewise, if he looks over his left shoulder his body veers into my body and I trip. So make sure that you are paying attention to him too.
The danger of tripping over your dog because he is distracted is common, but can be lessened by keeping him in a good heel position. Also, try to stay light on your feet when there are distractions around in case you need to do some fancy footwork to avoid tripping.
Dog paws need to build up their pads before you run too far. Make sure that you check his pads periodically for worn spots.
If you live somewhere warm (like here in Las Vegas) NEVER run with your dog when the pavement is too hot for you to stand on it barefoot. He could get very painful burns on his pads that will take a long time to heal. There are products to help prevent pad wear, like paw wax or booties. These also help with hot / cold running surfaces and enhance traction. But it is best to try to build up your dogs pads gradually. Cold weather can also be hard on your dogs paws. Besides worrying about the cold temperature you also need to be aware of de-icing chemicals on road ways and slipping on black ice.
Make sure that you and your dog stay hydrated (especially if you live in the Las Vegas area).
If you live somewhere hot its best to go as early in the morning as you can or later in the afternoon when its cooler.
If you need water while you run then your dog does too.
Make sure that he has a chance to get water as soon as you get back.