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How far can Brittanys safely run?

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 11:35 am
by Jager
I'm hoping I can get some good replies to this post regarding how far/long I should run my Brittany. I got him at 3 1/2 months and by 6 months, I was running about 3-4 miles 3 times per week. It's now spring time and he's 10 months old. I run him 7-10 miles 5 times per week. I'm concerned after reading other posts elsewhere that he's not mature enough to run that far/long. He has a TON of energy and never seems to tire even after 10 miles. I'll also say those half of those miles are "off leash" on woodland trails so I'm sure he's running even farther than what I mentioned. After a few hours of sleep/rest back home, he acts like he's ready for more run time; however, I never run him twice in one day. I'm not familiar enough with this breed to know if they should (I already know he can) run that far/long per week. It seems ridiculous to wait until he's 18-24 months before he should run distances up to 10 miles. I think he needs to expend his energy or he'll go crazy. He loves running off leash on the trails and that gives him mental/physical stimulation which helps him stay calmer for the rest of the day. I check his paws after every run and he's not bleeding or wearing out his paws yet either, but I'll probably get him some shoes. By the time he's 18 months old, I figure he can easily run 1/2 marathons or farther. Bottom line, are there any other Brittany owners who run their dog as much as me for his age? Any feedback on whether this much running will affect his long term growth? Thanks in advance,

Re: How far can Brittanys safely run?

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 5:02 am
by Cindy
It's sounds like you've looked through back postings but just in case ... Check out postings made by Mark about his dog Monty (RIP). Mark's wife ran marathons with the dog and, as I recall, I think that was discussed. I'm assuming you've also asked your vet?

Re: How far can Brittanys safely run?

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 12:15 pm
by Barb Wright
Training a dog athlete is like any other athlete start slow and gradually build up strength, distance, and stamina. Though it sounds you started a mite early, if you started slow, kept a close watch on his attitude and performance such as trying to slow down or seem to want to stop, or the converse like over-doing, and did let the dog gradually increase distance, then you did him a great favor in contributing to optimum strong bones and muscles. IMHO waiting to train until the dog is 18-24 months just makes it all harder for the dog and you may not end up with a superlative result. Exercise is ESSENTIAL for dogs during their growth period.

My bona fides are 20 years raising and training sled dogs. Pups (5-6 months) are allowed to run behind the sled for very short sprints...this helps build muscle and strong bones... and by 8-10 months are in harness, again for short training sprints, slowly increasing distance, speed and time, and this is working, not running free. By one year old they are running in races. One of the main points of emphasis is to not push for more than the dog can physically give, so the training, as with any athlete, must be gradual. And it should be year round, very important for any athlete.

You have done right by being very careful with the feet. You are probably running on different types of surfaces and so a close watch for cuts and abrasions is important. A proper diet is also essential, and with a conscientious training program (which it sounds like you have and are doing) his pads will toughen and become durable. The worst thing to run on is macadam, very wearing on pads. Cement is hard on bones and joints. Gravel can be very bruising to webbing and pads. Just plain old dirt is the best surface. If his pads seem to be holding up you probably won't need (or want) "shoes". The proper fit of a "shoe" is very difficult to achieve athletically speaking, plus they can cause abrasions and don't allow for proper flexing of the whole foot. Dogs need the flex of the toes and grip of the pads to perform easily and naturally. A soft bootie would be best if you are concerned with the surface you will be running on. If you run on snow and ice you will need to check often for ice balls forming between the toes....keeping the hair between the toes closely trimmed will cut down on debris sticking to the hair between the toes and cut down the chances of cuts and abrasions.

And I guess my answer to your original question is this....with gradual and proper incremental training, farther and faster than you can :lol: I'm hoping that some of our member runners will drop in with some hands-on tip for Cindy mentioned, Mark is a really good "go-to" guy. PM him, if that doesn't work let me know and I'll try to catch him for you.

Re: How far can Brittanys safely run?

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 3:26 pm
by Jager
Thank you Cindy and Barb for your replies to my post. I didn't ask my vet about how far my Brittany can/should run because there is a wide degree of variance depending on the vet which is why I tried asking other Brittany owners who are probably more knowledgeable about that breed versus a generic vet. I'm guessing the vet would just look up info on Brittany's online like I've already done.

Barb, you make great points and I'll keep your suggestions in mind. To other Brittany owners, how do you expend their energy if you're not running them or if they don't have a playmate with a big fenced in yard? I can't get over how much energy my dog has and how eager he is to go for his runs in the morning. He'll wake me up by 5:30 to get my stuff together so he can go for a run. He really seems to enjoy the runs in early morning and then essentially sleeps for the rest of the day. I"m hoping Mark will respond since looking through dozens of pages of his posts is a bit tedious. Thanks again,

Re: How far can Brittanys safely run?

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 4:01 pm
by gagesbarb
I don't have anything else to offer about running, beyond what others have said...
As far as "tiring them out" I have found that mental exercise is also important and can be "tiring..." a little time spent training, either everyday activities (sit, down, recalls,targeting, etc.) or teaching tricks wears my guys out...I do clicker training, though you certainly don't have to use a clicker...just make sure it is all positive--no punishments...they also love hide-and-seek--I have them "stay," go hide (at first just around the corner, then more difficult places) and then call them...they love searching me out and it is fascinating to watch different strategies each dog can also hide treats around the house and let them "hunt..."
I also think that my guys get "exercise" on their walks by having the opportunity to sniff...I don't run, and although we walk briskly, there is no way I could physically tire them out...but mentally "exercising" is just as important, I think, and is satisfying to them as well...
I can get more physical exertion by playing fetch in the back yard...I throw and they run off and chase the ball...again and again...however, they are not ball obsessed, and actually, they soon seem to prefer to go off on their own, sniffing...those noses are something else :D