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Training with Dogs

Well, I have totally recovered from the half marathon. I stayed off the knees, had several ice baths, iced my knees lots and stretched plenty. And also consumed ALL the glutamine. I didn’t run all week, but I did swim everyday. My first tri of the season is coming up in 10 days and I’m so so so excited. Anyway, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce a very important new friend that I’ve been training with the last few weeks and whom I’m growing very attached to! His name is Copper and he’s a red doberman puppy (well he’s almost a year old). He belongs to my friend Mike, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to bring Copper with me on my adventures. If you haven’t trained with a dog friend before, it can be very rewarding. First of all, training with a buddy of any kind can be very beneficial, you don’t want to let you training partner down and wimp out. Even if it’s a puppy! Copper and I go on mountain runs, and run around Elk Lake, and generally cavort. Now, if you’re going to train with a dog, there’s several unspoken (and spoken) rules that we all must follow. So here for you all is my list of tips and things to remember when training with animal friends in public!! Caveat: Keep in mind, I do not claim to be an actual dog trainer, but I am experienced with animals.

1. Know that your dog will come back to you when you call him/her. If you’re going off-leash (not allowed in some places), make sure that your dog will come back when you call him. If it’s your personal dog, this is a little easier as you are the one who’s training him (if you aren’t prepared to train your dog, don’t get one….at least not a big one), as Copper isn’t my personal dog, I made sure before we went on our first adventure, that Mike told me his call word, and that I had treats. As soon as we got to the mountain I made sure to call him to me several times, and gave him a treat so he knows that I’m his human for the day. Now that we know eachother, I don’t worry at all about him running away and coming back because I’m confident that he comes when I call him.

2. CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG…this seems like a no-brainer, but really, there’s nothing worse than stepping in random dog poops. Be considerate of the other people using the park/trail/public area, bring bags and clean up your dog’s poop.

3. Be aware! Especially if you have a big dog, be aware of other people’s feelings. Even though I know that Copper is the sweetest dog alive, not everyone knows him, and not everyone likes dogs. I like to call ahead if we are approaching strangers from behind and say something like ‘friendly dog sneaking up behind you.’ Or if they see us coming, just saying ‘he’s super friendly’, or something like that. I find that especially with Copper, there’s a bit of a doberman stigma (even though they are the sweetest dogs), and even if you aren’t afraid of dogs, seeing a random large dog running at you full speed can be unnerving. Get a dialogue going with the people around you and you won’t run into problems. In the same vein, if you know that your dog can be funny about other dogs, or people, or bikes, or horses, make sure you prepare him appropriately if you see one of those things. If I see a family with a bunch of little kids I have Copper sit beside me and let them pass, not that he would do anything other than run over and sniff them, but small children are easily frightened and I would hate to be the cause of a child’s fear of dogs!

Those are my three big rules for harmonious training with a furry friend in tow! Since it’s practically summer here on the west coast, I plan on being outside as much as possible with my new friend!

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