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If you want to make sure that your new running shoes actually hit the pavement every day, get a dog that needs regular exercise. But borrowing your girlfriend’s chihuahua won’t help. A range of factors determine whether or not a dog will be a good training or running partner, says Christine van der Westhuizen, owner of the south African Dog Training College. “Any breed of dog is only as good as its breeding, its upbringing, training and home environment.” Keep this in mind when you choose your canine running partner.
1/ Outdoor Family Man
You need a dog that will be able to keep up with your active and adventurous lifestyle. “The Border Collie has a tremendous amount of energy and a large open space is excellent for this breed,” says Van der Westhuizen. “they are keen workers and are quick to grasp what they are taught.” As an added bonus, their good temperament and eagerness to please ensure that they will be good with children and other animals.
2/ Slick City-Dweller
A properly trained (long legged) Fox Terrier will be your best running partner in the city. “they are agile and energetic dogs, but can be calm and controlled when necessary,” says Van der Westhuizen. Fox terriers are also known to be excellent protection dogs, if safety is a concern. “they are very sharp,” she continues, “many a Fox terrier has saved their owner’s life due to the strong bonds they form and their alertness.”
3/ Long Distance Runner
If a 21km run is part of your daily routine, you need the stamina and endurance of a Siberian Husky, says Van der Westhuizen. But keep in mind that these dogs are bred to lead and think for themselves, so training is vital. “the pace and distance should be started slowly and built up as the dog adapts.”
And Remember This…
It’s important to gradually build up your dog’s endurance if you want it to be your running buddy. “In the beginning it’s wise to alternate between walking and running,” says veterinary surgeon Dr Bev Rhind. Gradually increase the time that you run, until you and your dog are running at a steady pace for about 20 minutes. Remember that puppies still have a lot of growing to do, so it’s best to wait until they are a bit older. “Don’t train a puppy, as their growth plates must first close to avoid permanent injuries. Most large breed dogs can begin training at about 18 months.”