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Wiener dog races!? That’s a thing?
Imagine a half dozen Dachshunds, dashing down a racecourse at top speed, err... well, whatever that is for a Dachshund, ears flying in the wind, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat!
Dachshund Derbys are serious stuff! Well, not too serious. Sometimes the ultimate goal of Wiener dog racing is just to have your daring Dachshund cross the finish line at all. It’s not that Dachshunds are not fast, it's just that they are not necessarily that focused on the finish line. Dachshund owners have started organizing races more and more in recent years to raise money for charity, and it’s all in good fun. There is a concern that Dachshund racing can be hard on the little dogs' backs and joints if overdone. Be sure to consult with a veterinarian regarding your dog's fitness before putting your Doxie into training for racing. Remember he may not be Secretariat, but you can still have lots of fun at the Weiner Dog races!
It is important if you are running your Dachshund to keep your dog in good physical condition. Have him build up condition gradually prior to the races, so he is not liable to strain muscles or injure himself on race day. Some races employe starting boxes that dogs are contained in and then released from to run a 25 to 50-yard race course towards their owners, who are waiting at the finish line with yummy treats. Other races employ assistants to hold Dachshunds in place and release them at the “go” command to owners waiting at the finish. Races can be held over various terrains, and are usually straight, as participants are “amateurs”, however various course designs can be employed. Courses may be lined with barriers to prevent Dachshunds from going completely off course, which they usually somehow manage anyway!
These events are often held at rodeo grounds, horse or greyhound race tracks, or other special events. Most competitors are household pets not bred for racing--it is all in fun, and money is usually raised for charity from entrance fees.
For training, you can make a starting box with a door that can be raised to release your little speed demon. You will also need an assistant to release your dog while you call him from the finish line to simulate an actual Dachshund dash! Wiener dogs run for food--you will need lots of high value treats to motivate your Doxie. Hot dog pieces work great and are appreciated by budding Dachshund athletes. Sometimes, toys can also be used to motivate reluctant runners. You will want to simulate a race course by putting barriers up on the side of the course to direct your dog and maybe provide some distractions in the form of adoring, screaming fans to simulate the sights and sounds of an actual race.
The Simulate a Race Method
Simulate a course
Set up a short race course, 25 yards in length. Mark off the course with lime or set up barriers with straw bales or folding tables tipped over on their sides, whatever will work to delineate the course.
Contain your dog
Put your wiener dog in a wooden box with a door, or enclose him in his kennel at the start line.
Start with a short distance
Kneel down 5 yards in front of the start box with a tasty treat in your hand.
Release your dog
Have an assistant release your dog while you call him and wave a treat for him.
Work up to full distance
When your Dachshund runs over to you, provide the treats and lots of praise. Gradually increase the distance until your Dachshund becomes accustomed to being released and running in a straight line to you to get his treat for the entire 25 to 50 yard distance.
The Born to Run Method
Encourage him to run to you
If you have an enclosed yard, let your Dachshund out to run in his yard. When you open the door to call him in, always provide a yummy treat to encourage your dog to run, not walk, over to the door.
Fetch during walks
Take your dog on lots of walks on-leash. Carry a favorite toy you can toss in front of you on walks and run with you to go over and fetch.
Run with other dogs
Find other dogs owners with well-socialized dogs and walk and run with them. This will help get your Dachshund used to running alongside other dogs.
Teach off-leash recall
Teach your dog a strong off leash recall you can use to get your Dachshund to come to you. Take your dog to a large enclosed areas like a dog park. Let your Dachshund run and play off-leash and practice calling him to you from a distance. The recall can be used to direct your dog during a race.
Practice races with your dog
Set up a racecourse and run alongside your Dachshund with a toy or treat in hand. Encourage your dog to get excited and run as fast as he can. Provide the treat when you cross the finish line.
The Finish = Food Method
Signal for treat
Teach your Dachshund a signal that indicates they are about to get a really yummy treat, such as “yum-yum” or “treat”. Consistently provide this signal every time you provide a high value treat, such as a hot dog or piece of chicken to your wiener dog.
Signal at finish line
Take your Dachshund to the finish line of your improvised race course, give the signal and provide a treat.
Take your dog to a start position
Have an assistant take your dog several yards away while you wait at the finish line.
Release and signal your dog
Have your assistant release your Dachshund while you provide your signal. When your Dachshund runs over to you, provide the high value treat.
Repeat, making the distance longer and longer with each successive attempt. Your Dachshund will learn that the signal for a treat is always provided at the finish line and that if they run to you when they hear the command they will get a great treat.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 02/09/2018, edited: 01/08/2021