I’ve recently started running with my almost 9-month-old weimaraner.
I don’t even like running all that much, to be honest. Who would?
But what I do love is how running connects me to my dogs.
We cover more ground. It’s a great way to “check out” from the stress of life. Running seems to remove the need for training or leash manners. When I run with my dogs, we naturally ease into the same pace. Frankly, it’s one of my tricks for teaching “heel.”
Distractions that become a big deal while walking (other dogs, friendly strangers, interesting smells) seem to disappear while running. My young dog focuses on the task at hand – being with me.
Instead of pulling, he floats.
Treats don’t even matter. For 25 minutes, we’re a team.
When is it safe to start running with a puppy?
My weimaraner puppy is almost 9 months old now, and we are doing some light, slow running up to about 2 miles four or five days per week.
This is not a post about what you should do with your puppy. I’m sharing what works for me and my weimaraner.
Many veterinarians, dog trainers and breeders will say you should not run with a dog at all until his muscles and bones have physically matured and growth plates are closed. This is usually around 12 to 18 months, depending on breed. Larger dogs tend to take longer to mature physically (and mentally).
Too much “forced” exercise can potentially cause damage to a puppy’s developing joints, these experts say.
These warnings should be taken seriously.
Yet, people can also take this to an extreme.
I’m aware of dog owners who have carried their young Labradors up and down stairs for a full year. The reason? To protect their dogs’ joints.
I’ve seen 8-month old puppies already overweight because they’re not getting walked.
Their owners fear anything over a half-hour will give their dogs hip dysplasia. (I also fear people are using this as an excuse not to walk at all.)
And on the behavioral side of things, the United States has a real problem with young, healthy dogs being surrendered to shelters and rescue groups. Mainly larger breeds.
It doesn’t take a scientific study to figure out a real factor here is these dogs are under-exercised, untrained, poorly socialized. Just plain difficult to handle.
So, it’s all about balance and common sense.
Personally, since my puppy is extremely high energy (explosive!) and too smart for his own good, I have always sided on getting him out and about for proper exercise, training and socialization. I said exercise first for a reason. He needs it.
For me, the risk of not exercising my particular puppy enough is a more serious risk than overdoing it. Keeping him exercised keeps him somewhat manageable.
Being a serious runner, I know that 1, 2 or even 3 miles really is nothing for an active, sporting breed. Even for a puppy.
I’m not taking my puppy out for 5-mile runs. YET. We’re not doing intense workouts. We don’t sprint. I don’t even throw the ball over and over and over.
These 2-mile, light runs are my way of taking it easy on him. We might go at a 10-minute per mile pace, tops. Usually slower.
And I still worry I’m overdoing it!
Here is the running schedule I followed with my puppy:
This is not a guide. There is no science behind this. It’s simply what I’m comfortable with after discussing with my pup’s breeder and my pup’s vet and Good Ol’ Common Sense.
2 to 5 months: No running other than during play. Plenty of leash walks 1-2 miles per day at first and soon 2-3 miles per day walking. Eventually increase up to 4 miles per day walking.
5 to 6 months: 5 to 10 minutes of slow, steady running during our walks once or twice a week. Total distance per day 2 to 4 miles (mostly walking).
6 to 8 months: Slowly begin to add a mile of running a few mornings per week. Continue with daily walks 2 to 4 miles.
8 to 12 months: Running around 2 miles a few days per week, continuing with long walks.
(My pup is currently 8.5 months)
12 months: This is where I’ll probably start running 3, 4 or 5 miles most days and not worry about speed anymore.
18 months: Let’m run! This is where I’ll take him just about any distance, any speed, within reason. If I’m doing 8 miles, he’ll go 8 miles. If I do 20, he’ll probably do 20. And that’s not a joke. My senior dog Ace did long runs of 15 to 20 miles a day in his prime. Heck, weimaraners are bred for endurance, for running all day long in the field!
Other factors to consider:
Genetics. My puppy comes from a line of working weims where there are no hip and joint problems. His parents and grandparents are competitive hunting dogs. His grandpa is 12 and still works in the field. Remy’s breeder gave me the “go” to start running with him at 6 months. I’m taking a more conservative approach and slowly easing into it.
Spay/neuter. Most of the new research says that early spaying and neutering affects a dog’s muscle and bone development, especially for larger breeds. Remy’s vet advised me to wait on neutering my puppy until he’s at least a year old because of all the studies that link early neutering to torn ACLs, hip problems and other joint issues. Being a runner, I decided delaying the neutering would be best for Remy.
I’m thankful we have a vet who keeps up with the latest research. When people warn about not over-exercising a young dog, perhaps they should also warn about the effects of early spay/neuter. This is yet another big problem in the United States, with rescue groups regularly neutering puppies as young as 8 weeks old. More here.
I’m not saying my approach is best. Perhaps I’m overdoing it with my puppy. No one knows for sure.
This post is meant to start a discussion for those who run with their dogs. I know I’m not the only runner wondering how long I should wait before allowing my little athlete to join me for workouts. God knows he has the energy for it!
Truly Pawsome is a monthly subscription box for dogs containing 4 to 5 high-quality toys, treats or other items. It’s always a surprise what will be in the box. You can order a single box or sign up for 3, 6 or 12 monthly “subscriptions.”
This post is sponsored by Truly Pawsome. Use code thatmutt10 for 10% off any order. Click here.
Truly Pawsome subscription box review and coupon code
My thoughts on Truly Pawsome:
It was so much fun receiving a surprise box of goodies from Truly Pawsome.
Two things really stood out to me.
First, my dogs can actually use ALL 5 items in our box.
That has not always been the case with other brands of subscription boxes for dogs.
Second, the items were high quality.
The treats are from brands well known for high-quality ingredients, and the toys we received are built to last!
Here’s our unboxing video—See what’s in the box: [Link.]
Our box included:
Hugglehounds Frog Knottie toy ($14.95-$21.95) – This one is a hit!
Beco Ball on a Rope toy ($7.99-$10.99) – My dogs are really into this toy!
Dr. Harvey’s Le Dogue Bites chicken treats ($13.95)
Isle of Dogs Chillout treats ($7.99)
Nite Ize LED light ($6.99)
Total cost if you were to buy all these items separately would be around $52 + tax & shipping.
How much does a box cost?
*Use coupon code THATMUTT10 for 10% off any order!*
If you order a single box from Truly Pawsome, the price is $40. The cost per box goes down if you sign up for a monthly plan.
Single box: $40
3-month plan: $34/box
6-month plan: $32/box
12-month plan: $30/box
Use code THATMUTT10 for 10% off any subscription, whether it’s a single box or a 12-month plan! Order here.
What’s unique about Truly Pawsome?
You can trust that ALL the items in your dog’s box will be high quality. That’s not always the case with other subscription box companies!
Truly Pawsome is inspired by the founder’s senior pug, Pork Chop. Pork Chop and his little pug brother Murray are the chief taste testers and approve all treats and toys!
As far as price and number of items, Truly Pawsome is pretty similar to other subscription box companies. It also donates the equivalent of 10% of all purchased subscriptions to dogs in need, which is what many of the other companies also do.
Pros of Truly Pawsome:
Items are high quality.
Focus is on treats and toys! What dogs really want!
Easy to cancel your subscription at any time.
The company donates to dogs in need.
Nice way to provide your dog with new toys and treats each month without having to think about it. That truly is pawsome!
Good value when you add up the cost of each item in your box.
Our particular box didn’t come with any chew toys or edible chews. Not a big deal unless that’s what you’re hoping for.
No cat version, at least not yet!
Would I order a subscription?
No. My dogs and I loved receiving this box, but I’m unlikely to sign them up for a subscription.
I’m more likely to order a box for a friend or as an occasional gift for my own dogs—like a birthday present. It really is a lot of fun to receive a box with surprise items!
Would I recommend Truly Pawsome to others?
Yes! If you’d like to surprise your dog/s each month and have a need for treats and toys this is a great way to make your dogs happy. This is especially if you’re already buying toys and treats regularly.
The value of a subscription is worth it and it’s a lot of fun! And especially if you have multiple dogs, they can share what’s in the box and chances are everything will be a hit!
I’m competitive, so I want some of MY readers to win!
(Don’t be scared by the high number of entrants. Everyone has multiple ways to enter!)
More about feeding raw dog food & raw cat food
Feeding your dog a raw diet means just that – feeding raw meat, bones and sometimes raw fruits and veggies.
I started looking into feeding my dog a raw diet about five years ago because it makes sense that dogs and cats are meant to eat raw meat. Cats, in particular, are definitely carnivores.
In many ways, raw food is healthier for dogs and cats compared to dry, cooked food because a raw diet is more natural to them and real, fresh food contains more nutrients.
Just as people are generally healthier when they eat real food (less processed), the same is true with our pets. It’s just that dogs and cats are able to handle raw meat because their digestive systems are built differently than ours. They can generally eat raw meat without getting sick!
It’s not necessarily bad to feed your pets dry food, but raw is an option to consider.
The sweepstakes through Balanced Blends is designed to show people that raw feeding can be fun! It’s also less intimidating if you have pre-prepared raw food ready to go in your freezer vs. trying to put it together yourself.
More info on Balanced Blends
Balanced Blends is a company that makes raw diets for dogs and cats. The food comes in frozen, 8-ounce portions delivered right to your door.
Some of the benefits to feeding Balanced Blends include:
It starts to get light around 6:45 this time of year so we might as well be running in the middle of the night.
We all know it makes sense for our dogs to wear LED collars when out and about in the dark.
Believe me, l know what some of you have to deal with. I lived in Minnesota most my life. This time of year it’s dark when you go to work and before you head home!
This post is sponsored by Petabunga. Enter to win a free USB rechargeable LED dog collar below. 5 winners! Click here.
What I like about our LED dog collar from Petabunga:
1. Drivers are distracted enough!
Anything to help me and my dog BE SEEN! And to be fair, drivers simply can’t always see runners in the dark. It’s up to runners to protect themselves.
2. Helps other runners see us.
It’s pitch black in some areas. No street or house lights. There are usually other runners out early in the mornings too, and the LED collar lets those other runners and walkers (not the zombie kind) see us. Same with bikers.
People might not notice my dog otherwise, and that can be an issue for those walking reactive dogs. They need to see us so they can give their own dogs some space.
4. A backup to my own flashlight.
I carry a flashlight, but I only turn it on when I see a car or person coming, which means there’s a bit of fumbling around with the leash, flashlight, etc. With the LED collar, I just set it to ON when we head out and it’s good to go for the whole run.
The collars have an on/off switch + “flashing” mode. (And remember it charges with a USB cable, so no batteries to worry about – ever!)
5. Extra protection for my dog.
Since my dog is shorter than me, drivers might not notice him even if they do see me. Occasionally my dog will dart ahead of me or behind me or to the side. Yes, I keep him on a short leash but the LED collar is just extra protection so drivers spot him.
Off leash benefits:
Being able to see your dog off leash. I don’t let Remy off leash in the dark because he’s a puppy and we’re still working on coming when called. However, plenty of people exercise their dogs at the dog park or dog beach early in the morning or at night. An LED collar helps you keep track of your dog!
Being able to see your dog in your own yard! Heck, black dogs like my Ace can disappear even in a fenced yard at night! Have a dog that doesn’t like to come back inside? With the LED collar, at least you can see where he is!
Do you have an LED dog collar? What do you like about yours?
Order Petabunga’s USB rechargeable LED dog collar HERE. ($24.99 + free shipping)
This LED collar is durable and BRIGHT. It’s a good value. Comes in green, blue, red and dark pink.
Ace and I walk together every morning (right after I walk the wild-child puppy). It’s a nice way to start my day. Yesterday, we even ran for about 45 seconds. He loved it!
And while he’s not a fan of our puppy Remy, Ace seems to tolerate him OK.
I am no longer concerned about any aggression issues like we were having earlier. Ace will occasionally snarl or even bite Remy, but it’s always deserved and it’s always my responsibility to keep Remy in line.
Lindsay Stordahl Lindsay Stordahl (with her mutt Ace) is the blogger behind That Mutt.
Julia Thomson Julia Thomson (with her mutt Baxter) writes regularly for That Mutt.
Barbara Rivers Barbara Rivers writes for That Mutt about raw dog food.
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Lindsay Stordahl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.