One of our prerequisites when choosing what type of dog to get was being able to run with him/her. I've been a runner since high school, when I started running track senior year, and then went on to run 4 years of college track and field. My husband and I have each run a few marathons, and like to do some shorter races throughout the year. So we wanted an active dog since we love to run and hike! Vizslas certainly fit the bill there.
A lot of people ask me about running with Vizslas, so here is a little more information.
A general reminder: make sure your dog is fully grown before going on long runs with him/her. Typically, that's 12-14 months of age; this is according to vet recommendations, to allow bones to finish growing and to avoid running your dog into hip problems later in life. Some other good doggie running tips are to avoid hot days, make sure there's water available on your route, and to keep in mind that not all breeds and ages are meant for running.
Becoming a Doggie Running Partner
Vizslas are great running partners! They are built for running and being active. But I paid attention to the vet's recommendations, and held off running with Captain til he was about a year old. We did do some short 2-3 mile runs with him before that point, but we kept frequency to a minimum. And, as with any runner, we have built up to the longer distances. I also try and keep him on trails and beaches when I can to avoid the pavement as much as possible. Luckily there are lots of great parks around!
It's funny how many times I've re-written this paragraph on Captain's running schedule over the years. What is a "typical" week in terms of running mileage changes based on our schedules and what's going on in our lives, but no matter what, we ensure Captain gets some form of real exercise and outdoor time every day- that's just a prequisite for a healthy, happy dog (and personally, I think for a healthy, happy person too!) Captain's total weekly running mileage has ranged anywhere from 12-35 miles/week, and as for human runners, we never do large jumps in mileage without working up to them. My runs with Captain vary between short (2-3 mile), middle distance (5-7 mile), and rarer longer distances (8-14 mile). Usually only one shorter run (2-3 miles) isn't enough exercise for the whole day if not combined with something else. These days, as an eight-year-old Vizsla with a 2 year old (human) sister and two working parents, Captain will often do two 2 mile runs a day or one 3-4 mile run, plus a few short walks. I try to avoid long runs on all pavement with Captain, and when I was marathon training, I didn't take him on the 18+ mile runs with me, partially because my husband didn't like the idea, and partially because he's a dog and he can't tell me what he's feeling. Generally, I think a moderate running schedule is healthiest; individual dogs will differ in their needs and abilities, even within a breed, but a balanced and healthy amount of exercise will keep everyone happy!
Captain's Running milestones:
- Longest run: about 14-15 miles.
- May 2011: First time running to Point Isabel- we ran there, around, and back- a little over 8 miles.
- March 2011: 12.5 miles to and around Tilden Regional Park. It was muddy!
- April 2011: First time over 10 miles! 11 mile run around Tilden, and up the infamous (well, infamous if you have ever attempted running, biking, or hey, even driving, up this steep 25% grade incline) Marin Ave. Captain's take? Piece of cake.
- May 2010: First mid-to-long run: 8 miles along the Embarcadero
While our preference is off-leash running, obviously there are spots where that's not always possible. Click here for the RuffWear "running leash" we use- great for normal hands-free running with the dog when you have to have him on leash. Highly recommended. For more recommendations, see also our Vizsla gear post.