Activities For Triathletes With Dogs

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Introduction

The triathlon refers to a multisport race involving three consecutive and continuous endurance races. While there are several variations of the sport, the most common form is the combination of swimming, cycling and running. The individuals who participate in this sport are known as triathletes. Being one of the most grueling sports, triathletes spend a lot of time and dedication to train for an event. In fact, their training is constant and periodized, often working on each of the three disciplines. Unfortunately for some, this means less time spent with their loved ones, including their pets. A unique way to train, and one that is more enjoyable, is to use your dog as a training buddy. With the right equipment and patience, triathletes can integrate their furry buddies into their training regimen and daily routine. 

Running

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Sunny Day
Free
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Leash or harness
Activity description

One of the disciplines in triathlon is running. Out of all the three sports executed in a triathlon race, running is considered the simplest movement. This is not to say that running is the least challenging. In fact, triathletes still dedicate a substantial amount of time training for the run leg of their race. If you are looking to train with your dog, then the running portion is definitely the easiest one to involve your pooch in. What’s good about this activity is that you not only get to do some training, you also meet your dog’s daily exercise needs. Moreover, an activity done together serves as a good bonding moment between you and your furry buddy. 

Step
1
Get your dog checked
As simple as it seems, running can be a strenuous activity for your dog, especially for breeds that are not as athletic as some. For your dog’s safety and your peace of mind, have your pooch checked by your trusted veterinarian. Your vet will determine whether or not your dog is fit for running and how intense your runs with your dog can be.
Step
2
Choose a dog-friendly running area
Once your dog gets a clean bill of health, then you can start training for your run. Choose an area where both you and your pooch can run. Not all tracks or ovals are open to canines, so it would be best to choose a different place to train. Some popular options include dog parks or even just around your neighborhood.
Step
3
Go for a run
The only thing left to do will be to actually go on your run with your dog. Oftentimes, some runners simply have their dogs by their side or tagging along. This, however, should only be done if your dog has a complete understanding of commands such as “Stop” and “Go”. Otherwise, it would be best to keep your dog on a leash or a harness attached to you (usually via a hands-free waist belt). Don’t forget to stop for a break every once in a while so your dog won’t get too tired.
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Swimming

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Hard
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Flotation vest
Activity description

Swimming is an integral part of any triathlete’s training, especially since triathlons involve long-distance swimming in open water. For dogs, swimming can be considered a fun activity. Dogs actually have an innate love for water and most dogs are naturally good at swimming. Take this opportunity to bond with your dog while simultaneously training for your next race. If you have a big, active dog, then swimming can also serve as an outlet for all that energy. Just make sure that your dog is safe throughout your swim training and that you do not force the issue in case your dog seems uncomfortable in the water. 

Step
1
Start training in a pool
Swimming is normally the first part of a triathlon event, where triathletes swim a certain distance in open water. As such, most of the training takes place in open water, such as the beach or the lake. However, since open water is not always accessible, some athletes go to a pool instead. This is also a good starting point for those who want to train with their dog. In a pool, you get to train in a safer environment. It also helps you gauge your dog’s ability to swim without putting them at risk.
Step
2
Move to open water
When you get enough training in and you are confident in your dog’s ability to swim, you can move on to an open water swim. Find a lake or beach near you and do some swimming. Make sure that your dog has a life vest strapped on and assess the water’s condition. If the waves or currents are too strong, make sure to keep your dog close. You can even attach your dog to you using a leash or cable so that you can keep track of their activity.
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Cycling

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Hard
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Harness or collar
Bicycle
Activity description

The cycling leg completes the trifecta of a triathlon race. By default, this portion features the longest distance. Hence, you need to put some mileage in when training for the cycling event. Most triathletes have bicycle trainers so that they are able to train indoors in case of not-so-good weather. However, on a clear day out, it is fun to hop on a bike and go for a ride. What can make your usual ride even more fun is by bringing your dog with you. Cycling works best for dog breeds that are muscular and have high levels of energy, although any mutt can have some cycling fun with proper gear and training. 

Step
1
Get the appropriate gear
Cycling on your own requires you to have certain gears. But, when it comes to training with your dog, there's some additional equipment that is needed. The most important gear would be a special outdoor harness and collars that your dog will wear. These items are usually available in outdoor shops or dog specialty stores. Invest in the appropriate gear, especially if you plan to fit your dog into your usual schedule. Whatever you decide to buy, however, the main priority is your dog’s comfort. For those with smaller dogs, you may also invest in a pet carrier or a body harness so you can carry your dog on your person while you ride.
Step
2
Practice the commands
One of the keys to successfully cycle with your dog is by getting all the commands down. Commands such as “go”, “stop”, “slow”, “left” and “right” are some of the basics that your dog should be able to completely master. This allows for a safer and more efficient cycling session.
Step
3
Go for a ride
When your dog has a total understanding of the commands, go on a trial ride. Start slow and at a shorter distance to see how your dog responds. The best starting tempo is one where your dog jogs beside you at a leisurely pace. This means that your dog is neither being pulled by you nor pulling you. Over time, you can increase the distance and speed of your ride in accordance with your dog’s capabilities.
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More Fun Ideas...

Pamper Day

For athletes, rest and recovery are just as important as the training itself. This goes for dogs as well. A day in the spa is a great way to relax your tired muscles and get your dog all cleaned up and rested. You can go on spa sessions separately or opt for special owner-and-dog spas. 

Join a Race Together

With your dog being a part of your regular training routine, the best way to test your training is to actually go on a race with your dog. Thanks to certain race companies, such as Tridog and Irondog, dog-owning triathletes now have the chance to compete with their mutts alongside them. These races first showed up in Europe but have made its way to US soil. Do your research and look for upcoming races near you. 

Conclusion

The triathlon is one of the most grueling sports to have ever been made; it requires not just strength and skill but also endurance. The life of a triathlete is no walk in the park (no pun intended) and entails dedication and a whole lot of training. The best way to make training more enjoyable is to include your pooch in your sessions. This is a great way to boost your dog’s aerobic capacity and to share some quality time together.