March 11, 2009
I’m turning into a “runner“… Yep, me, the dog that’s always been energetic, but more of the “grab-shake-kill” kinda athlete vs the herding type… My mom, the rockin’ dog trainer here in Ventura, is also a runner – she’s the one who is training and coaching me. And she’s doing it in a way that’s really fun. She wrote about it the other day too…something about taking her own advice about training your dog.
You see, I’ve always done whatever I wanted while on leash…I just always get to be a dog! Especially when I’m out with dad…(mom sometimes refers to him as “Disneyland Dad”). I just get to sniff, go tinkles and #2, leave my “pee-mail” for my doggy friends, check others pee-mail, roll in stuff, and take my time…unless my nemesis is around (mail trucks!) because then it’s on! I’ve never really “run”, especially for any type of distance.
Well, mom decided running together would be fun. After a couple of practice sessions she realized I never did “run” because I’ve never been taught to. Duh. Sure I can run – much faster than her! But running next to her while on leash for an extended period of time is something completely different for me! This is an actual “behavior” that I’m not used to – so she got really smart, took her own advice and lucky me has his own private dog trainer. And I must say, it’s been really fun!
She knows that like all new training plans you need to start easy, and work your way up. We started with walking, mixed in with moments of easy jogging. We didn’t start out too far too fast. Mom say’s if you do you can risk injury, and she’s all about safety and health, and loves me…she would never want me to get hurt.
After a week of that routine she increased the amount of jogging compared to the walking segments. And now, about six weeks later, we’re up to two times around at the Kimball Park path here in Ventura, and with a “fast finish”!
How did she do it? Simple… We use my breakfast (or lunch) while we’re out training. She doesn’t give me a lot (trust me, I could eat the entire bag of whatever she has) – she gives enough to keep me focused, while avoiding the chance of getting me sick – don’t want to eat too much. Instead of eating at home, we take it on the road. Mom knows she needs to be careful about overfeeding me, so she’s using my meals to her advantage.
The times she rewards me varies…but I’m figuring it out. For walking nicely next to her I get rewarded with kibble. For the actual running part I get something much more yummy – usually baked chicken, grilled steak, roasted pork tenderloin, or lamb baby food….yep, baby food – just a lick or two out of the jar.
She also happens to positively reinforce me whenever we pass by another dog or person, a cyclist, stroller, rollerblader, and anything else I’d like to say hi to or run after. She knows to keep me motivated to run with her instead of wanting to do all of those other things. She is one clever trainer because it works! Check out the video that dad took of us.
I feel really bad for the other dogs out there…it seems they their moms and dads often yell at them whenever they want to say hi or run with us. I wouldn’t like that at all! No fun doing it that way. Moms way rocks it!
Mom made mention of me running a race…maybe a 5K or a doggy specific race. I wonder when we’re going to do that? I think the Santa Barbara Athletic Association has some official races for dogs to enter….I wonder if I’ll get to wear a number like mom does at her races? Hmm, something for this inquisitive canine to ponder.