I would like to begin having our Lab Misty join me while jogging. Early on, I got some advice from this forum that you should wait until a Lab is about 18 months old before engaging them in this sort of exercise.
Misty is now 21 months old, and I'm ready to begin having her jog with me. Up until now I have refrained -- due to the advice here about her age, (not to mention the fact that she has, up until now, been too hyper to "behave" on a run!!)
The other day, I gave it a try -- and she did real well from a "behaving" perspective. So I think she's ready to begin, and I am looking forward to it. My questions revolve around distance. We ran for about a mile the other day, being not sure how much she could handle at first. She did well, but I could tell she was a bit tired toward the end. I would not have wanted to have gone any further with her as that seemed to be plenty for the first time. Generally, though, I run 4-6 miles (at an average pace of roughly 8:30 per mile); with that said, I'm curious to know two things:
1. How far could I expect her to be able to run eventually, at that pace, once properly accustomed to such exercise? Is it reasonable to think that eventually she could run 4-6 miles also, or is that too much to expect from a Labrador?
2. What might be a reasonable approach to acclimating her to further distances? In my mind, I would think that running roughly a mile, say every other day, for maybe 2-3 weeks or so (or until she does not seem tired at the end of the run) would make sense, and then maybe moving to 1 1/2 or 2 miles, doing that for a few weeks, etc., and eventually building up to the 4-6 mile range (or, to whatever distance is agreed on is reasonable for a Lab). Does this make sense?
Any help here would be appreciated, since I really don't know how to approach this whole thing.
Thanks for waiting for Misty to mature, Steve.
Hopefully some other runners with Labs will share their experiences with you. I can say that Labs differ enormously, one from the other, so what best fits one won't fit all.
My first Lab (Bess) wanted about the same amount of daily vigorous exercise from when she was one until she was about ten years or so; she noticably slowed down only her last couple years.
My present Lab (Puff) was "hyper" or "wired" as a pup and she needed two doses a day of the "5 minutes per month of age" daily exercise from the time she was about 6 months old until she was was a year old. We walk (Puff offleash) early every morning about 2 miles in a nearby nature preserve where I sling a training dummy or drop it on the trail for her to retrieve. It used to be 40 or so retrieves when she was 2-3 years old. But her energy level has gradually declined -- I can tell by the speed and motivation she puts into it as well as her behavior during the day. So now at age 7 years, Puff probably gets no more than 20 retrieves on our morning walks. And she's mellow the rest of the day. And perfectly content when we sometimes go only one mile instead of the usual 2.
So I very much appreciate your approach when you said:This shows you're sensitive to "reading your Lab's behavior". As long as you keep that sensitivity and attitude, IMO you should feel free to experiment to determine what best suits your specific Lab's energy level.My questions revolve around distance. We ran for about a mile the other day, being not sure how much she could handle at first. She did well, but I could tell she was a bit tired toward the end.
There's no rule of thumb on this that will fit all Labs.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
Thanks for the Kind words, Bob. I do try to be sensitive to, and in tune with, her needs and behavior.
You make a good point about each Lab being different; I hope I did not imply that I expect them all to be capable of the same things. It's just that I have no idea what is even reasonable in terms of endurance. My instinct is that if we work up to it slowly, she'll have no trouble. Reason being is that when we walk, my "walking" pace is too slow for her. She wants to move faster, and it's a constant case of me having to "slow her down" and struggle to keep her in a "semi-heel." However, my run pace seemed to be a much more comfortable "trotting" type of pace for her. It seemed to be closer to the pace that she prefers -- one she'd naturally want to move at, and I had no trouble with her trying to pull, or "move ahead" of my pace. It seemed to me to be a pace that she could sustain for long distances, once she is in good cardiovascular condition. But, then again, I would never have guessed on that "18 months" rule, so I wanted to be sure that this is not another case of my instincts being incorrect (thinking that she might become capable of 4-6 mile jogs).
Anyone else have experience jogging with Labs? I sure don't want to cross that line between "plenty of exercise is good for them" and "too much exercise is harmful." And again, while I feel pretty confident that I could read Misty's level of fatigue, I've also heard it said that sometimes these dogs will go forever, even beyond what is good for them -- so if that's true, I thought I better ask some opinions. Again, that "18 months" thing is one I would not have thought of, especially being that this is my first dog...
I did a search on this subject on this forum, and while I didn't find much, I did see a post where Trickster said that Labs are capable of alot more in terms of endurance than one might think, such that at an appropriate age and fitness level, such jogs should be no problem for most Labs.
Alot of this will depend on the individual dog. I run about 5k (3.1 miles) with Rocky 5x a week. We're gone about 40 minutes - we stop for him to pee a few times, and of course #2. In the summer I have to go in the early morning as it's just too darn hot for him (he does NOT deal well wtih the cold).
Rocky is naturally laid back. He's just not interested in going very fast so I've had to keep my pace abit slower (thus not really challenge myself). But in the cool weather he can do abit farther (close to 10km) though we seldom do this anymore.
So as for how much your girl will be able to do - that depends on her. I have run with fosters/others who were outrunning Rocky and me on our first trip out. Tundie was more than capable but found it dificult to keep my pace (it was too slow, he either wanted to run faster or just walk). I don't think 10km (6 miles) is too much if you build up to it for most dogs, your pace just might not be what you want it to be.
When I start with my fosters (all fully grown and capable) I just monitored their behavior. I stopped a few times to give them a break and ensured they were not pushing themselves.
Your plan to get her into it sounds fine. I find the hardest part is when they are with you it's no longer your "Exercise" run but one about them - ensuring you don't push THEM too much. So though they may be able to run farther distances it may be at a slower pace. They will keep up so you need to watch out for the signs of fatigue (tongue hanging lower than it should, nose to the ground....for Rocky anyway).
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
Thanks for the input; sounds like you have alot of experience running with Labs.
I have no problems with Misty's pace; if she runs slower than I want to, then I can always take her every other time, and push myself more on the runs in which she is not with me on (and maybe take a couple of shorter runs on my "days off" to keep her in shape).
You mention the heat -- which is no problem. I can't run in the heat either, so in the summer it's either early morning or after dark for both of us!! She doesn't seem to mind the cold -- she's hunted with me in cold weather and didn't seem fazed by it.
Unless anyone else chimes in to the contrary, it sounds like my ideas aren't too far off, so we'll give it a go and see how she does.
I agree with Bob, I think she could handle that pace as long as it wasn't too hot and she has access to water. I can't run anymore because I have bad knees, but I can tell when Oona is tired when we are hiking or snowshoeing because she will stick to me like Velcro.
My kids, Kodi and Hoss can go many many miles and their sister Thumper will go way further. While I am not jogging, I am in a golf cart and they are running beside me. Kodi and Hoss can easily go 5-6 miles (stopping occasionally for a dip in a pond or a pee or poop break). Thumper, well, her 'parents' jog and Jay will go 8 miles with Thumper and his wife Julie will take Thumper immediately after that for another 8 miles and Thumps is still looking for more. Thumps is built like a greyhound though and obviously in great shape. I can not tire her out with the golf cart and to watch her sprint for a 1/2 to 1 mile across a field is just spectacular to watch!
edit to add; be aware of the outdoor temperature of course and overheating!
Thanks Oonas Dad and Belles mom for the additional info.
Because I also do not deal well with jogging when it's hot, this issue should take care of itself!
I am looking forward to seeing how it goes...