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If your dog is fat, you aren’t getting enough exercise ~ Unknown

I exercise our DAD’s a lot. I’m a runner, and most of my runs include at least one, and often both of our DAD’s. I’m in training for the LA Marathon (which is less then 2 weeks away!) so I have been running upwards of 40 miles a week for the past several weeks. Major runs about 25-30 of those with me and Raven runs 18-20. I’ll explain the difference later.

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So why do I exercise these dogs as much as I do? Many reasons, but first and foremost, they are working dogs, and as such, require more endurance than the typical house pet. Our DAD’s are expected to be able to go to work or school for 8-10 hours a day, then soccer practice or horseback riding lessons, out to a restaurant, a trip to the grocery store, a Dr’s appointment, then we expect them to wake us up at 2am if there is an issue, and then the following day head off to the park or the zoo, Disneyland, or the work/school repeat cycle. My Great Dane basically gets up from her bed in our room, and moves to her bed in the family room. In all fairness to her, she may make that trip 2-3 times a day. So, endurance is the first reason. We need to build theirs up.

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The second reason is that Labs are active dogs, and can get mischievous if they have pent up, excessive energy. I already know that if I miss 2-3 days of running with these dogs, somebody is going to get in trouble. Major is an AMAZINGLY GOOD, well behaved, obedient dog. However, if life gets in the way (as happens on occasion, illness, work stress, school etc) and I miss 2-3 days, Major starts to get bored. The only time he has ever dug a hole in our yard is when I’ve missed a couple of days of exercise with him. Always remember:

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This is how Major lets me know we haven’t run in a couple of days

It also proves to be an amazing way to bond with your dog. These dogs LOVE to see me put on my running shoes, and they know the sound of the backpack I keep my running gear/hands free leash in.

Around our house, I generally take Major with me 4-5 times a week, and Raven goes 3-4 times a week. Major has a slightly different body type from Raven, and is capable of a lot more exercise. He could probably run a marathon with me with just a bit more training, and he would love every minute of it. He has run as much as 18 miles with me. Raven loves to go run and be outside, but what we have noticed with Raven is any more then 6-7 miles 3-4 times a week, and she starts to sleep through the night and miss alerts. She also can’t run in the afternoon, or she will sleep through the night. So I keep her to just the shorter 5-7 mile runs, and always in the mornings. If I miss a morning run and need to go after work, Raven will be staying home regardless of distance. These are all things you learn as you get to know your dog.

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Running with Major and Bear
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There are a tremendous amount of ways to exercise with your dog. Agility, Rally, frisbee, fetch, walking, hiking, running, and more. Here, we will specifically talk about running with your dog. If you aren’t running with your dog, but would like to, here are some pointers to get started. These will cover getting your DOG up to speed. There are lot’s of other resources if you are interested in getting YOURSELF up to speed 😉 However, feel free to shoot me a message or leave a comment below.

FIRST AND FOREMOST! Make sure your dog is AT LEAST 2 years old and essentially full grown. Excessive running prior to  being fully grown is bad for joints.

  1. Start your dog of slowly and gradually. If you are already running, then grab Fido for the last 1/2 to full mile. Run for a little, and walk for a little. Fido needs to ease into this just like we do. Pay close attention to his pads, as they will need to be built up.
  2. Make sure your dog knows basic commands like “heel”. This will make your run much less dangerous, and both of you will be less likely to get injured if Fido stays by your side instead of darting left and right.
  3. Always keep your dog on a leash. For your safety and his. I run on streets and on trails with the dogs. I don’t want them to ever dart out in front of a car, or chase after a skunk. I also get VERY irritated when someone else’s “well behaved” off leash dog heads right towards us and forces me to stop or slow down. Or possibly get bit.
  4. Pay attention to the possibility of over heating. Dogs can’t sweat, and can only pant to remove excess heat. Some warning signs: panting, slowing down, foaming at the mouth, weakness, inability to stand, uncontrolled movement, agitation and glazed eyes. If you notice any of these signs, cool your dog immediately by thoroughly wetting him with cold water and getting him into the shade or an air-conditioned area, if possible. If your dog starts to vomit or doesn’t improve within 10 minutes, seek veterinary help as quickly as possible.
  5. Make sure you are carrying water for Fido. You can teach your dog how to drink out of a sports bottle, or carry a collapsable bowl. Or something like this 🙂 :


The majority of my weekday runs are done locally in our neighborhood, and on streets and sidewalks. It is always important to keep an eye on your dogs pads, and the running surface you will be on. The surface gets hot in the summer, and even around here, can form ice in the winter. You also need to keep an eye out for glass, thorns, etc. A slow build up of mileage will help build up the pads.

The trails are where the dogs really shine though. Easier surface for their feet, and a lot more interesting views for us. We love to run at Puddingstone lake, and try to get out there at least once a week.

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Scenes from Puddingstone
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Ready to hit the trails
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Now that daylight Saving time is coming back, one of my favorite things to do is Bring Stella and the dogs out on the weekdays after work and go for a run around the lake. Stella rides her mountain bike on the trails while I try and keep up with the dogs.

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And what could be more fun than entering a race with your dog! Every year we do the Race for the Rescues in Pasadena that let’s us run with the dogs. And if Stella enters a race, we keep Major’s vest on and let him go with her.

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Stella & Bear

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Runners World has some great articles on running with your dog. First up, “Which breeds are best?”
and how to turn your dog into a runner

Okay, so now you think you want to head off into the sunset with Fido by your side. Here are some accessories that I use everyday to make running with dogs easier. First up, a hands free leash. I use a hands free because I like to run trails and occasionally need to keep my balance on rough terrain. I also like to have my hands free. And if I fall, I know I won’t be letting go of the leash. I use “The Buddy System” and also their “The Extra Buddy” to have attach 2 dogs:

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Most of our runs take place at 5am in the dark. With 2 black labs, that poses a dangerous issue of not being seen, so we use 2 precautions. First, the dog that runs on the outside (away from me) wears a RuffWear Track Jacket for increased visibility. We have the Green vest:

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We also use lighted and reflective collars made by Night Ize (watch the video to see what they do) I use 1 that is “on” and 1 that is “blinking” so I know which dog is which. They also come in very handy when walking around dark crowded areas:

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I carry my keys, iPhone, and poop bags in an SPI (small personal items) belt. These belts are awesome. They don’t bounce or slide around while you run. And they also work great as a treat holder for training, or as a pump bag (Stella has her pump in one):

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And finally, I carry a collapsible bowl that I can fill up at a water fountain in a park, or from my own supply. I got this one at REI, I love it as it has a carabiner that I clip to the hands free leash:

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Hope that some of this was of interest to you, and if you have any questions or comments, let me know below!

Team Blackdogsrule!

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