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Having a high energy dog is no joke for the busy dog owner. For breeds like Huskies especially, who are bred for plenty of long working days, being able to provide sufficient exercise can pose a daunting problem. How do you ensure that your dog is getting the exercise he needs to be happy and healthy, and help prevent any unwanted behaviors in the process?
While walking may be the activity that most owners go to, Huskies are much more fond of high-intensity exercise like running. This makes them the perfect pet for frequent runners or joggers, as they’re fully capable of keeping pace and going for long distances without an issue. Being able to run with your dog also provides ample bonding time and a foundation for which to later train other obedience commands in order to have a well behaved and well balanced canine companion. If you’re interested in learning how to run alongside your Husky in order to improve the quality of exercise that he’s receiving, rest assured that there are certainly harder things to learn.
Because running is a fairly intense physical activity, it can be more demanding exercise and thus should be utilized with dogs that are not too young or too old. Exercise is generally no good if you’re putting too much pressure or damage on your Husky’s joints or muscles. Running is also done best when you’re able to take gradual steps. Asking too much may be a recipe for disaster.
To get your Husky up to running at a reasonable pace for longer distances, expect to take at least two or three months for an adult dog to work his way up to that level. You’ll be working on not only his ability to keep pace, but also his stamina and endurance, as well as his awareness of the road you’re on. Traffic and other pedestrians are always a possibility, so be prepared for every possible circumstance.
To start your run training, have your Husky evaluated by a veterinarian. Be sure that there are no evident illnesses or injuries that could affect or cause damage to your dog during a run. Conditions like arthritis or hip dysplasia can cause pain in an overactive pup and you want to avoid causing any further degradation of joints.
Once you can get a clean bill of health, your next tools are a reliable leash and collar. Choose a leash with reasonable length. Six feet is probably ideal, in case your pacing is off in the beginning. Other than that, bring a couple of small treats along with you for your initial work in training a good ‘heel’. Being sure that your dog can stay by your side will make your run training much easier.
The Heel Method
Use a motivator
Use a treat to get your dog’s attention. Hold it in front of his nose to encourage him to follow it.
Get into position
Lure your Husky into the appropriate position at your side. A proper ‘heel’ is generally done on your left side, but unless you plan on working on competitive obedience later on, you can go with whichever side you’re more comfortable with.
Walk a few steps
Take a few steps forward with your dog in that position. Let him follow the treat as you walk.
Reward your Husky with the treat after a couple of steps have been taken at your side. He only receives the reward for walking at a heel.
Increase distance over time
Increase the amount of steps you take before rewarding each time. If your pup struggles with a longer distance before the reward, go back to the last time he was successful and try again.
The Speed Method
Use ‘heel’ to match a slower pace
Use the ‘heel’ command to help your Husky keep up with your initial running pace.
Start at a light jog. Don’t expect your dog to break into a full sprint right away. She will need time to work up to a faster pace.
Take some time in between runs to drink water, sit and rest, or have slower periods of walking. This can help prevent fatigue.
As your dog begins to adapt to your running pace, feel free to quicken it gradually over time. This can go until you’re at your ideal running speed.
Pace in interval
Interweave runs with some gentler jogging or power walking. This can prevent burnout and give both you and your dog opportunities to catch your breath before breaking out into another run.
The Distance Method
Start off small
When it comes to training stamina and endurance, you can’t ask your Husky to go for several miles the first time you run. Start with just a simple run around your neighborhood block or even down the street if you’d like to start smaller.
Increase distance over time
Every run session, increase the distance that you’re running. Do this gradually so that it is mostly unnoticeable.
Watch for signs of fatigue
Even Huskies can get tired. If his panting is excessive or he is slowing down, take the opportunity to rest or even end the run entirely.
Take a step back if necessary
If your dog is struggling to go for longer distances, go back and shorten your runs. Never push your Husky any further than he is able to go. This can cause injury or conditions like heat stroke in the wrong season.
Change up the terrain
Once he is able to endure longer runs, try going up or down hills or running over grass or dirt roads. Watch for any hazardous items in your path like sharp rocks or bits of debris.
By TJ Trevino
Published: 03/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021