How to pick a dog who's a running companion (Read 1038 times)

    I've never had a dog.  I've always liked dogs, but it just wasn't a commitment I wanted to make, and I liked my cat fine.  Lately, though, with our 18-year old cat not long for this world Sad, my two kids (10 and 8) have been ramping up their let's-get-a-dog campaign, and I find myself reconsidering.  I do really think I'd enjoy some canine company on my runs.

     

    I'm confused by the advice I've seen on "good dogs for running."  It seems to me that the thing that matters most is temperament.  Dogs have got to be like people, really: aside from some outliers, particular physical issues, etc, I figure most dogs, with time, could get into physical shape for running, at least at my level.  But how do I find a dog who will faithfully trot alongside without wanting to stop and sniff every blade of grass, freeze and watch every squirrel, or, worse, try to run off after every squirrel?  Or is this like physical conditioning, and a dog could be trained to do it?

     

    Even if a dog could be trained to do it, I figure some will be better at it than others.  So, how do I find such a dog?  For many reasons, I'm partial to mutts and/or shelter animals, but does that mean it's much more luck-of-the-draw than going with a breeder who can (maybe?) make better predictions about temperament?

     

    Any advice for a dog newbie?

      First, I think a lot of it boils down to training.  My pooch used to try to stop to smell things while running, but she learned pretty quickly that this isn't viable when moving along at a decent clip.

       

      Bear in mind dogs are like people, though--run the same loop too much and they might protest.  Mine "gets bored" if we do repetitive loops (unless we run fast, which she always loves).

       

      That said, some breeds are built for running far more than others.  I have a Rhodesian Ridgeback who is pretty much the ideal running companion.  She loves to run, can run in the hot parts of the summer so long as I pay as much attention to her as I would to myself.  She's done 20+ miles with me without complaint (and less tired at the end than I was).  Of course, they were bred to keep up with men on horseback--so my run is typically her fast walk.  I would definitely recommend looking for a breed bred for running, but that's partly because I've had so much success with my own.  Her temperament is pretty textbook for the breed--which is, too, well-suited for running.

      "When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I tired? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem." 
      Emil Zatopek

        Adopt a greyhound that has finished its racing career. They are very mild mannered and love to run.

        MonkeyBunny


          Breed generalizations can be a problem. Many greyhounds don't like to run or are too injured to ignore

           

          many people ignore the basics when it comes to dogs and running

          • They are susceptible to heat. Two good running friends do not run with their dogs if its over 70 or 75
          • We sweat. Dogs pant. They can't pant and run at the same time
          • Dogs run barefoot. Most humans have nice running shoes. Pay attend to your road surface - and the temperature 
          • Dogs are conditioned to please people. That means they will run past the point of safety 

          I do hope you'll adopt vs supporting a puppy mill bred dog. Your best chance of success would come from adopting through a rescue that fosters their dogs in people's homes. That way you can ask in advance if the dog is a runner.

          Houston Marathon 1-13-13

          Rock n Roll St. Pete Half 2-10-13

          Gasparilla 15K 2-23-13

          Armadillo 10K 3-9-13

          Ogden Marathon 5-18-13

          Steamtown?

          Baystate?

          The Goal:  Boston Marathon 4-20-15

            Anne,

             

            I probably should let my wife help you with this but she's not available at the moment.  I'm sure you will do your research on this, take your time.  I think that the most important thing to consider is your lifestyle & you have 2 young kids.  Once you narrow down your choices it is great idea to use a reputable breeder & not a puppy mill breeder or large petstore chain.  Finding a dog from a shelter is also a good idea but as you said it would be more a luck of the draw.  Reputable breeders will cost you more money upfront but you would have a much better chance of finding a new family member  that will have a longer healthier life & will cost you less $'s in the long run. If you do decide to go the shelter route make sure you have done your research first & stick to your choices that you have researched!  You will see many very cute cuddly dogs that will melt your heart & you will be tempted!!    you may want to go to shelter alone at the least the 1st time w/o your 2 young kids.

             

            another very important thing to remember is that most dogs need around 15 mths or so for their growth plates to close (fully develop) so you should wait until at least 12 months before any "long distance running" Of course it depends on the breed & the indiividual dog but  AKC  requires all breeds to be 15 months to compete in AKC agility because of the above reason. they can begin to be trained to run short distances much earlier, kind of like a c2k plan idea.  It will greatly pay off big time for you & your kids to go through obedience classes as well.  take your time & do it right, your family (which would include your dog) will be much happier.  big decision that will affect the whole family dynamics.

             

            feel free to send me a pm & I can get you in touch with my wife who has far more knowledge than myself.  Also check out AKC.org to find a list of breeds & information on them.  good luck & happy running

               

              • Dogs are conditioned to please people. That means they will run past the point of safety 

              I do hope you'll adopt vs supporting a puppy mill bred dog. Your best chance of success would come from adopting through a rescue that fosters their dogs in people's homes. That way you can ask in advance if the dog is a runner.

               

              +1000 on both points!   fantastic advice on looking into rescue dogs that have been fostered in people's homes!!  We have been involved with this as foster dogparents.  There are some awesome foster organizations out there that specialize in specific breeds. great idea!


              Half Fanatic #846

                All the suggestions are really good - I was also thinking, maybe you could also go to the local animal shelter and take two or three potential adoptees (one at a time!) on a  "test run" around the block as well. I've considered doing this but am not ready yet. Don't know if there would be any negatives, but you probably shouldn't do this with puppies and maybe the shelter wouldn't be too keen on it anyway. Good luck!

                I can do 440 in 220            90% of running is half mental            I ran half of my last race on my left foot!

                 

                  Okay, I like the rescue organization idea.  It seems like I can develop a pretty good list of local orgs looking at a site like Petfinder, and I guess I just get in the habit, when we're ready to adopt (feel terrible, like I'm waiting for the cat to die . . . .) of calling them and asking about jogging companions.  I had this impression that rescue orgs don't like first-time dog owners, but probably I shouldn't make that assumption until I talk to them.

                   

                  I don't feel strongly about getting a puppy.  While I want a dog who's likely to be around for a number of years, I'd be fine skipping the puppy phase!

                   

                  I have always heard this rec for a "reputable breeder."  How do you know if one is?  How do you find one?  I'm a bit curious about some of the "designer dogs" like golden doodles or giant schnoodles, but I don't know where to start on a search for such a dog.  (well, golden doodle, I guess I'd ask my friends where they got their sweet boy)   I don't think any of the pet stores around here sell dogs, but, yeah, I wouldn't go that route even if they did.

                   

                  >They are susceptible to heat. Two good running friends do not run with their dogs if its over 70 or 75

                  I live in the Bay Area and run at 5:30 or 6 in the morning.  It's rarely much above 60, even in the summer.  Point taken though on watching for canine discomfort in any circumstance.

                   

                  The greyhound advice is kind of what I'm talking about with confusing breed-specific advice, actually.  I see them often on "good running dogs!" lists, but every greyhound I've ever seen has been a jumpy shivery thing, and it's hard to imagine those delicate looking creatures slogging through the long slow miles with me.  I'm sure they're good companions for other runners or other families, but it's hard to picture them in ours.  Am I missing something?

                   

                  Thanks for the advice so far!


                  Not dead. Yet.

                    I would get a Rhodesian!  They are such cool dogs.  I adopted my mutt just because she was a Rhodesian mix.  She has the coloring and similar look to the face, but thats where it ends.  She could never be a runner.  When I see them from afar, they remind me of small Great Danes.  Similar body style.  I doubt the Danes are runners though.

                    How can we know our limits if we don't test them?

                      Talk to local hunters about bird hunting dogs.  Any dog that is good for bird hunting must be able to run all day, while being well behaved.

                       

                      The neighbor's Labrador Retriever followed me for 16 miles two years ago, and was still running back and forth exploring at the end.  Although it was slowing down a little bit.

                       

                      The same dog followed me for 5 miles recently.  It was running back and forth until it sniffed a wolf track.  After that, it stayed real close to me.


                      Maggie & Molly

                        my vet recommended looking for the following:

                         

                        short hair

                        long snout

                        medium size or large but lean

                         "It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop."
                        Wisdom of Confucius

                        HF 4363

                        GinnyinPA


                          A reputable breeder cares less about making money, than about what is best for the breed.  Reputable breeder means one that does the appropriate testing prior to breeding their dogs, i.e. in Golden Retrievers, the parents (and grandparents and gggrandparents at the least) should have good hips, elbows, heart and eyes.  There are specific tests that are done at 2 yrs old  to determine whether the dogs are healthy enough to be bred.  Backyard breeders generally will not do any of the tests, or sometimes only one or two.  (Family member bought a beautiful Lab puppy, from a BYB.  At two it was diagnosed with severe hip displacia.  The poor dog is crippled and the family is trying to save up for surgery.  They didn't know about clearances.)  Different breeds have different health issues, so if you are buying a puppy, you need to find out what tests should be done prior to agreeing to a puppy.  Ideally, they also show their dogs, so they know that their dogs match the breed standard for looks and personality.  It's about improving the breed and doing their best to make sure that the puppies they sell will be healthy.

                           

                          Some rescue groups won't adopt to you if your children are young.  That's usually not an issue with Humane Societies, but breed specific rescues can be ultra cautious about adopting to families with kids, because of the potential for abuse or neglect or biting problems.

                           

                          Most dogs can be trained to run with you, but it may take time to get the pace right.  Make sure he's done his business before you start.  If you are street running, or if you aren't 100% certain of your dog's recall, your dog should always be leashed.

                           

                          As others have said, a young dog shouldn't be run far, and watch out for heat.  Our golden doesn't even like to walk if it's over 85.  In summer we only go to places with lots of water to roll in and drink.

                          MonkeyBunny


                            Without spending too much time on my soapbox, there is no such thing as a reputable breeder.  We're talking about a group of people who are in the business of making some or all of their income from breeding and selling animals when MILLIONS are euthanized every year.  Over 25% of animals in shelters are purebreds.  Plus you don't want a puppy anyway (don't blame you).

                             

                            I've run a nonprofit animal rescue for 15 years - not dogs or cats but there are some similarities when it comes to approving or disapproving an adoption.  It's not that we don't like the first time owners, it's that most of them are freaking clueless and have a pretty big chip on their shoulder, especially where their kids are involved.

                             

                            Here are the basics:

                             

                            • Are you financially stable?  Do you own your house?  If you are a renter, can you afford the pet deposit.  Do you have a yard with a fence?  Can you afford the shots, licenses and routine veterinary care?
                            • Is the entire family on board with the adoption?  I don't care what the kids say or promise, they will tire of the dog and mom will be the primary caretaker.  
                            •  Is anyone in the family allergic?  If anyone in the family develops allergies, most physicians will blame the pet and not address other issues in the house such as dust bunnies and nasty carpets. 
                            • Will your lifestyle accomodate a dog?  Do you travel a lot?  Are you a neat freak? 
                            •  How are your kids?  This is the area where I find parents have the most difficulty being objective.  Are they calm and gentle or noisy brats?
                            • Have you done the math?  Assuming you get a 3 year old dog, you'll have the dog for another 8-10 years (no assumptions made about breed longevity, just making a point).  That means you could have the dog past the time when your kids go to college.  Are you ready for that time committment?
                            • Have you done basic research on dog bite laws?  You just want to be aware of what liability you face if your dog gets out or if a child wanders into your fenced yard (you'd be shocked at how many times the law favors the trespassing child who is bitten).

                            If you or anyone objects to this short and not complete list, I would say that a dog (or any animal) is not right for you.

                             

                            My strong recommendation is to "borrow" a neighbor's dog and offer to dogsit before you make a long term commitment.

                            Houston Marathon 1-13-13

                            Rock n Roll St. Pete Half 2-10-13

                            Gasparilla 15K 2-23-13

                            Armadillo 10K 3-9-13

                            Ogden Marathon 5-18-13

                            Steamtown?

                            Baystate?

                            The Goal:  Boston Marathon 4-20-15

                            xor


                              >> there is no such thing as a reputable breeder.

                               

                              That is an opinion, not a fact.

                               

                              And I vehemently disagree.

                               

                              MonkeyBunny


                                SRL, true.  There are probably a handful of breeders that practice reputable breeder guidelines.  The list below comes from the Harrisburg Kennel Club.  Hopefully people are asking for proof before handing over $1,000 as the breeder cheerfully assures the owner that he/she has only the best interest of the animals as a priority.  But the vast majority of breeders fall into the backyard breeder/puppy mill breeder category.

                                 

                                A Reputable Breeder...

                                • screens their dogs for genetic problems. They should be able to tell you about the genetic problems in the breed and show proof that the parents of the litter are free of those problems.
                                • does not breed dogs "to make money" or so "our children can experience the miracle of birth." A reputable breeder breeds to advance their breeding program and for their love and devotion to purebred dogs.
                                • will tell you the good points as well as the bad points of the breed. They want to make sure you are fully aware of what to expect before you buy the puppy. Cute little puppies grow into big dogs. Will you be happy when that cute little ball of fuzz turns into an 80 pound, shedding fur factory?
                                • usually only breeds a litter if they intend on keeping something out of the litter. They are breeding to further improve their breeding  program, not just to produce puppies for pet buyers.
                                • should be able to explain the reasoning behind breeding a particular dog to a particular bitch. They should be attempting to reach perfection as defined by the breed's standard. In the attempt to reach this goal with the resulting puppies, they should be able to explain the good points of each dog and what things they are trying to improve. If when asked about the breed standard, the breeder looks at you with a blank look on their face-RUN! If they don't know what a standard is, they shouldn't be breeding dogs.
                                • should be able to provide you with a pedigree of the puppies, not just a copy of the parents registration papers. A pedigree usually has at least three generations of the puppies' ancestors listed.
                                • does not breed a volume of puppies. A breeder with 7 adult bitches is not going to breed all 7 in a single year. Bitches are only in very rare cases bred on consecutive heat cycles.
                                • usually participates in some sort of dog related events such as dog shows, obedience, agility, schutzhund, sled dog racing, herding, field trials, lure coursing, earth dog trials, etc. They do something with their dogs.
                                • usually belongs to some sort of dog club (i.e., all-breed club, obedience club, breed club, etc.).
                                • is willing to give you references from previous puppy buyers. Those new to breeding should be able to give you references from other breeders of their breed or dog club members. They aren't offended if you ask them for references. Talking to references will help you to judge the character of the breeder.
                                • may ask you for references or ask to visit you at your home. The breeder wants to be sure that the housing or yard is suitable for the dog. A large dog wouldn't necessarily do well in a small apartment. Some breeds need to have a fenced yard with secure fencing for their own protection. The breeder is looking for the ideal situation for the puppy. They want the owner to be happy and not return the puppy because it was ill suited for the environment of life-style of the buyer.
                                • believes in service after the sale. If a puppy buyer has grooming questions, feeding questions, or training questions, the breeder will be there for you long after the puppy is no longer a puppy.
                                • will usually insist puppies sold as pets be spayed/neutered or placed on an AKC limited registration. The limited registration makes the dog exempt from having any of its offspring registered by the AKC.
                                • will usually take back any dog of their breeding at any age. Reputable breeders do not want to find out a dog they bred has been left in a pound or dumped by the roadside. They assume a lifetime responsibility for the canine lives they have put on this earth.
                                • Would never sell puppies through a retail outlet, animal broker, or laboratory.

                                Houston Marathon 1-13-13

                                Rock n Roll St. Pete Half 2-10-13

                                Gasparilla 15K 2-23-13

                                Armadillo 10K 3-9-13

                                Ogden Marathon 5-18-13

                                Steamtown?

                                Baystate?

                                The Goal:  Boston Marathon 4-20-15