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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

So I have recently begun training for a half marathon, hopefully working up to something even longer in the future. I have been training with my AkitaxPitbull, Bear, who does relatively well with the summer heat. He's got the short coat of the pit bull but the musculature and long muzzle of the Akita, so he's built decently for running. We're up to about 4 miles, 5-6 on longer days. So far, Bear is keeping up with me well and actually seems to be ready for more even when our workouts are over.

So my questions are: how many of you run long distance with your dogs? How far is too far? Are dogs typically allowed to run in races with their humans? What kind of precautions should I take and do I need to change anything about his day to day care if he is going to become more of an athlete?
 

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I would highly doubt a marathon would allow a dog to run for liability reasons.

There IS a whole sport dedicated to this, as someone above said- I would suggest looking into Canicross competitions.

If this dog is running 4-6 miles a day, I would probably consider getting an X ray of his hips and elbows. It isn't something I think HAS to be done, but IMO is a good idea. I would just want to make sure his hips are normal if not good, and not mildly dysplastic. With very mild or at-risk hips, you aren't necessarily going to be seeing behaviors that would suggest it, but a lot of high impact, forced exercise (even if the dog is having a great time) is going to make eventual dysplasia more likely. You don't need to OFA them, just find a vet with orthopedic experience to take and read the X rays. I probably wouldn't sedate for this, either, unless the dog is going to be stressed to the point of terror and/or aggression by being positioned for the X-rays.

As long as the dog has been given clearance to run by a vet, I'd be totally OK with that distance in a large, high energy dog that does well or average in the heat. I would be aware that running a dog that far and that often is going to build a dog that likely NEEDS to run that far, but it sounds like maybe long distance running is something you are going to be doing long-term.

Definitely look for some Canicross stuff.
 

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Just on the topic of running with dogs, a lot of shelters/rescue groups do fundraising walks/runs were you can bring your dog as another option.
I agree with moonstream getting x-rays and making sure his joints and hips are all good might be a good idea.
Just an suggestion that you can look into if you want. They make cooling vests for dogs which might be nice for him during the warmer days and or longer runs. But since he's short coated and seems to be doing fine in the heat for the most part I don't think its nessicary.
 

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Make sure he is getting the nutrition that he needs. Have you considered feeding raw? What do you feed? I would also consider a good joint supplement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Make sure he is getting the nutrition that he needs. Have you considered feeding raw? What do you feed? I would also consider a good joint supplement.
Joint supplement sounds like a great idea and I am glad you suggested it. Any ideas on brands? I have always had good experiences using Cosequin in horses, I know they also make a version for dogs.

He is only 2 (and some odd months, not exactly sure because he's a rescue).... Do you think he needs to start them now?

Both my boys eat Blue Buffalo large breed adult food with an egg, coconut oil, meat, or sweet potatoe added every day for some extra nutrients. I don't have the space or time right now for raw feeding- I'm still in school. Once I am finished with my studies I plan to start them on raw feeding.
 

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Joint supplement sounds like a great idea and I am glad you suggested it. Any ideas on brands? I have always had good experiences using Cosequin in horses, I know they also make a version for dogs.

He is only 2 (and some odd months, not exactly sure because he's a rescue).... Do you think he needs to start them now?

Both my boys eat Blue Buffalo large breed adult food with an egg, coconut oil, meat, or sweet potatoe added every day for some extra nutrients. I don't have the space or time right now for raw feeding- I'm still in school. Once I am finished with my studies I plan to start them on raw feeding.
I use Cosequin DS which I purchase in bulk from Costco. Yes, start it now!

I suggest you add some raw chicken quarters and raw liver (beef or chicken) to his diet. At least supplement.

If you have a mexican food market in your town, buy a bag of chicken feet. GREAT treats which are wonderful for joint health.

Happy running.
 

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Is he actually running? Or trotting? If the latter, I would have zero concern with that sort of activity, so long as his joints check out ok. When I bike my dogs, I mostly keep them at a trotting pace on the road, as it's easier on their joints and pads than running, they get to run if we hit somewhere with grass, or need to cover a stretch quickly for some reason (high traffic area, no area to get out of the road for cars to pass, rain starts, etc). At one point I was doing 5 miles several times a week with Bus, but with his nubby little legs his fastest trotting speed is about 6-7 MPH. He could probably have traveled indefinitely at that pace though, and it was rare to find any sort of wear on his pads. I would expect a bigger dog like yours to cover more ground, faster, with similar effort.
ETA: The schutzhund AD is an endurance test which is 12.5 miles (20 km) ran with a time limit (which I can't find, but it says pace should be between 7.7 to 9.5 MPH). It's ran with the handler on a bicycle, but same concept for the dog. Here's some info on conditioning your dog for it. http://siriusdog.com/ausdauerprufung-ad.htm
 

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I'm training for a half-marathon with my girl too! We only started last week though so I can't report too much on how it's going. Although my SO does tri-athalons and our girl does training runs with him too.

We run primarily in the forest so she's off leash most of the time. However, we've agreed that runs over 15 km long she'll stay leashed to us throughout so that she HAS to trot because otherwise she runs like a crazy dog and burns herself out. We did a beach run yesterday, I did 11 km and she probably did about 25 km chasing seagulls so I worry less now about her endurance being a potential issue!

I keep the running to as much grass/forest paths as possible to avoid the hard-impact of running on cement for the sake of her joints and paws. Our girl is about 18 months and is built as a runner (very long muscular legs with substance to them, deep chest, etc). We haven't x-rayed her nor do we have her on supplements nor do we feed full raw (we feed frozen BARF in the PM and kibble in the AM). My running pace is a lazy trot for her (between a 8-9 min mile) that she could probably keep up for ages. I really don't worry about her since she's better suited to this half-marathon training then I am! However, if I had a dog not so suited to running, I'd probably take more care with checking everything out beforehand.

ETA: I only started 1/2 marathon training last week, but have always run 5k about 2-3x a week. Plus SO runs 3x a week (5-15 km) for his tri trainings, so our girl is very used to going running with us! This will just be the first time that we work up to 15+ km runs with her.
 

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Hello!
We're up to about 4 miles, 5-6 on longer days. So far, Bear is keeping up with me well and actually seems to be ready for more even when our workouts are over.
Raw dog capabilities? While it's true dogs aren't really built for long distance, they are much more capable of it than humans.

Sled Dogs. Iditerod race is 1150 miles. Best time was 8 and a half days. That's 135 miles per day. Granted, these dogs are specially bred and conditioned hard for this, and even then only a handful can pull it off and are very very drained afterwards.

Still, 135 miles per day.

Lots of hunting dogs, the hunter walks in a relatively straight line in a field and the dog ranges 50 yards to the right, then 50 yards to the left, then 50 yards to the right etc working a fan pattern in front of the hunter. Hunting dogs can keep this up for hours. They are capable of covering many miles a day.

Also, when cowboys used to ride everywhere on horses, dogs would accompany them...on foot of course.

Unless you have a very small dog breed, or a breed whose body has been heavily twisted by modern breeding to have very short legs or such a squished face they can't breath well, the dog is more capable physically than the human.

Note you'd still need to condition the dog. A marathon runner can expect to be able to pull any healthy medium size dog from the pound and have it run an equal distance...it's just the runner shouldn't expect the dog to be able to do that on day 1.
 

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Hello!
What kind of precautions should I take and do I need to change anything about his day to day care if he is going to become more of an athlete?
Forgot to comment on this part.

Pads. Watch them. Be aware running on concrete and asphalt is really hard on the dog's feet. Prepare to get treatment creams and/or booties if you are going to have your dog run on hard surfaces on a regular basis.

Grass or dirt = no worries.
 
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