Thursday, April 27, 2017

Getting Faster!!

Whoo!!! Zucchini ran 1 mile in the rain Tuesday night in 9:22!

When we started running she kept to a trot of around 11 minute miles. She understood pretty quickly that there is no stopping and sniffing in running (unless there is a poop emergency), but didn't have great focus. A lot of runs ended up with a total of around 10+ minutes/mile because we did fast finishes where she would break into a lope and ask to play tug with the leash. I was good with this because I want her to have fun and love running!

She ran two miles on Sunday in 11+ minute miles at a pretty steady trot. She seemed interested in the world but was definitely not interested in going faster. HOWEVER, on Tuesday it was raining. Zuc LOVES the rain. It makes her all excited. She already went to the park to play with her best friend in the morning and got a good walk at lunch, so I expected her to be a little tired. Not so. She started out by galloping. She settled pretty quickly. Then, for the first time, she got into a really good extended working trot! She was excited to be moving and stretched out her puppy legs!

I know, so exciting! #nerd

In her spare time she attends marches.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Training Log: Getting to Year One and Week One of Running

This was Zucchini when she came home at 8 weeks old:

She loved sleeping on our shoes.
This is Zucchini now:

Eyes closed and that is her tongue. The hot weather tired her out!

When Zuc first came home, she followed the infant pattern of insane activity and play followed by deep napping. Now....she's permanently just a little bit high on cocaine except for when she's sleeping, and even then she chases things.

These are the commands she knows:

Sit, Down, Wait, Stay, Come, Here, Look, Touch, Heel, Dropit, Leaveit, Takeit, Off, UpUp, Find, Gimmepaw, Circle, Dance, Chachacha, Rollover, Scooch

They are at varying levels of solid (I just taught 'takeit' this week) but she is doing a really great job of learning. She's 10 months old right now, so she's testing boundaries and developing independence. However, she's also developing patience and emotional control. She tries really hard and is a pretty happy little pupper!

She's been on a leash since day 1 and I work with her every time we go outside. Needless to say, her leash manners are fairly good (we are working very hard on walking nicely past other dogs and not jumping on passersby - getting better as she learns to control herself).

So what has her exercise looked like up to now?

8 weeks to 18 weeks (2-4 months): She was good for a 10 minute walk and 10 minute playtime before needing sleep. We woke up at 6am, went out, ate breakfast, went out on a walk (avoiding dog-populated areas until she was vaccinated), came home and played, I got ready for work, we went out to potty again, then she went in her crate and I went to work. I came home at lunch, we went out, we played for 20 minutes (tug, indoor fetch, and training games), then out again, then crate while I worked for the afternoon. I let her out after work, she went back in her crate while I went on my run, then she was free for the evening with a lot of bone chewing, dinner eating, tug playing, and going out to potty. She went to a puppy socialization class almost every Saturday. We also spent a long weekend at a cabin in the Poconos with friends and their grown dog Louis. She came back exhausted but happy. She had her last indoor "accident" 11 weeks after she came home.

19 to 28 weeks (4-6.5 months): The walk extended in the morning to about half an hour. We started going to a dog park at lunch. While she was still only 4-5 months old she really loved it. She got about 15 minutes of dog park playtime. She started staying awake the whole evening until bed time. I declared her house trained when she went a full month with no "accidents" and she was allowed out of her crate at night to sleep on the bed. She also got run of the kitchen during the day instead of being crated. She came along on as many errands and weekend events as I could manage. We continued with periodic obedience training classes. About halfway through this time we learned about a fenced park near our house. I started taking her there in the mornings and played fetch and sometimes played with some other regular dogs that show up.

29 to 30 weeks: She was spayed on December 27th. The two weeks after that involved a very itchy, stir-crazy unhappy puppy. I tried to keep her occupied with training games but it was a very difficult two weeks for everyone.

7 months: Fenced park in the morning. We stopped going to the dog park at lunch because she was getting into fights over toys every day. It's a difficult problem to manage when other owners are on their cell phones. Instead, we started going for a half hour walk at lunch and working on leash manners. Also, we started going hiking on the weekends! She got 1.5 hours every weekend (sometimes twice!) of off-leash hiking. She learned really quickly to sit from a distance and come back to me when called (walking away from her worked really well). She pretty much ran and frolicked the whole time with no encouragement. (Off-leash privileges were recently revoked because she is 10 months old now and no longer reliably comes back to me in a fit of teenage independence).

8 months: Morning, afternoon, and evening routine stayed the same. At 8.5 months I decided to try running one mile with her on the sidewalk from the house. At this point, she had good leash manners and we had spent a lot of time doing little sprints and jogging along when we wanted to go faster on our walks. She trotted along like she'd been doing it her whole life and if anything was MORE amped up when we got back. She seemed comfortable trotting at around a 10:15 mile and lagged behind if I picked it more than that. I didn't want her loping so we stuck to the slow pace. After that, she started coming on a 1 mile run with me once a week.

9 months: OMFG who flipped the LUDICROUS SPEED switch?????? She turned 9 months old and her brain dropped out. Every day she seemed to have even more energy than the day before. I was v v. worried it would just keep getting worse. I started talking about getting a second dog just so I wouldn't have to try and entertain her every second I was home. We played vigorously at the park, frolicked at lunch, did training games after work, hiked on the weekends, and carried on running 1 mile a week. We went on vacation for a week to visit my little sister in Florida and she got to be awake and playing all day long (played by the pool! dug a giant hole at the beach! wandered around the city!). I didn't know dogs could get bags under their eyes, but she looked hilariously exhausted. To her credit, she was a VERY good girl. When we got back she seemed a lot calmer. Thank goodness. A week and a half before she turned 10 months, we went on a 2 mile run!! The run was on Saturday and replaced her other activities. She was excited and ready to play when we got back. We repeated the 2 miles the following Saturday.

10 months: The warmer weather seems to be over-heating her a little bit, so we scaled back on intensity. We did our normal routine plus a 0.5 run last week and a 1 mile run this week. We've been having some non-exercise related training breakthroughs, which is exciting! Also, sometime between now and June her growth plates should be closed!

So far, she gets excited when I get out the running leash. She really likes loping and playing tug with the leash while running (I invite this and she stops if I ask her to). She trots at right around a 10 minute/mile pace. I think she gets a little bored with where we run? I feel like she might be more animated and interested if we go somewhere new. And when we get to the point where we can go to the woods I know she'll be ridiculously enthusiastic about it.

How fast does your dog run? What is their comfortable pace? Are there places they are more or less happy to go? How fast did you up their mileage?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Reboot: Let's Talk About Running and Dogs and Frolicking Like Ninjas

I'm another runner. I have goals and victories and disappointments. At the very end of 2016, I got a coach, and I'm feeling very optimistic and enthusiastic about my progress and the future! Hurrah. I don't have a lot to say about this on a regular basis other than HOOARY!!! and OUCHIE!!! and whoa running in the snow/sleet/thunderstorm/extreme heat is fun but difficult.

This is when she was 8 weeks old.
For the three people that read this blog, if you recall, last summer I added a small furry bundle of joy to my family. Her name is Zucchini.
She just turned 10 months old!
She is a border collie, which means she's smart, permanently set to Ludicrous Speed, and a little bit insane. I love her more than I can express. When she turns 1 years old, on June 10th, her birthday present will be that she gets to run with me for real. We started going on little baby 1 mile (and very recently 2 mile) runs once or twice a
week when she turned 9 months old. We aren't going further or more frequently until her growth plates are closed, which should be sometime in the next two months. I'm SO EXCITED to get to run with her more!

In anticipation, I have read everything I can find on the interwebs about dog fitness and running and training plans. It took about 5 minutes. Lest you think this exemplary of my poor googling skills, my skeptical boyfriend and friend also verified the surprising dearth of information. Where are all the runners obsessing about their dog's fitness and weekly mileage? Any information about their heart rates? Any horse people who spend countless hours monitoring and tracking their horses' fitness who also run with their dogs? There are lots of pooch-5k programs, but they all seem to focus on the human. What if Human already runs 40 miles per week?
She does not like sleeping.

My dog does not stop when she's tired. Even playing fetch, I've got to look out for her. So advice telling me to stop if she lags behind, or limps, is crap. That's like telling a runner to stop running if they snap a tendon. I mean, duh.

And, in that vein, where is all the dog-runner-specific merchandise???? Apparently the only thing anyone wants is a bungee leash that fastens around the runners waist? I don't know about you, but I choose my running gear carefully. I adjust if something chafes. I plan my nutrition and hydration. If I am asking my dog to run with me and I dictate our route, she deserves my attention to her comfort as well as mine.

See? Cute picture.
So, yes. She's a dog and so far she loves running. She doesn't need a whole lot. But she definitely needs a bit! This blog will talk about running with dogs and dog training plans and dog-running merchandise. It will also include cute pictures.

How did you train your dog to run? What kind of mileage do they do each week now? How fast do they go? How much does the temperature dictate how much they run? Is there anything you wish you could have for your dog?