Marathons are not like your average runs. You prepare and gear up for it weeks and even months ahead to ensure that you can finish it strong. And if you happen to be a proud dog owner, chances are you are also curious to know if you can take your fur baby with you.
Can a dog run a marathon, then? Yes, dogs can run marathons. However, there are several important considerations and precautionary measures to be followed. It is also important to ensure that your dog’s breed is suitable for marathons. Proper vet checkups and serious training are also necessary.
Continue reading below to learn more pertinent details before running a marathon with your dog:
Are There Dogs That Completed a Marathon Before?
Yes, there are already records of dogs that were able to complete marathons in the past. In fact, there are a lot of marathons that even encourage the participants to bring their dogs with them. Many dogs are not considered official registrants, though, so their completion is mostly noted as an add-on to that of their owner.
How Many Kilometers Can Dogs Run?
Dogs are known for being excellent runners. They can even outpace humans effortlessly when given the chance. The number of kilometers or miles a dog can run may vary a lot depending on the level of training as well as the dog's health, breed, and attention and focus on the task, just to mention a few.
Huskies are believed to be the best runners when it comes to endurance runs. Specialists and breeders estimate that these dogs can run a maximum of 241 kilometers or 150 miles a day. It doesn’t really come as a surprise, considering that Huskies are specifically and genetically bred for long-distance runs.
How Fast Can Dogs Run a Marathon?
Since canines are remarkably faster than humans, almost all experts are at a consensus that dogs can run marathons faster than the fastest human if they are given the chance to run the entire course on their own. However, this is impossible because most marathons require canine participants to be on a leash.
How Much Running is Too Much for Dogs?
As expected, some breeds can run longer and easier than others. To stay safe, it is recommended to consult the breeder or vet to get a professional opinion on both the health and breed of your dog.
Some online calculators can give you a range of the amount of running that your dog can endure. Just remember that these are only meant as general averages and are not definite in any way.
Aside from this, no matter what a professional tells or what numbers the calculator gives you, it is extremely important to keep a close eye on the actual reaction of your dog to running. Don’t forget that no two dogs are the same and these estimates only serve as guidelines instead of minimums.
Always listen to the specific needs of your dog and never push him to run any more than he can, even if the calculator or your vet told you differently.
Finally, the range that you get for the specific breed of your dog is only accurate assuming that your pet has already gotten used to it. Never expect your pup to run 33 kilometers or 20 miles right away.
Which Dog Breeds Can Run Marathons and Long Distances?
It is a must that you recognize and remember that some dog breeds are more suitable for marathons and long-distance runs. Other breeds might prefer shorter runs, while some might just want to go back and forth on quick strolls to the shops.
It is also critical to be familiar with the basic build of the breed of your pup. It will give you a good idea of what your pet can handle in the first place.
Some dog breeds such as pugs and other flat-faced breeds are not suitable or even recommended to run for longer periods. It is because they will likely overheat during the run and might have a hard time breathing properly. Other dog breeds like Golden Retrievers and Pitbulls would often prefer shorter and much faster runs.
On the other hand, dogs that were specifically bred for work are much more inclined and suitable to run marathons. Several good examples of these dogs include German Shepherds, Dalmatians, Weimaraners, and German Shorthaired Pointers.
It is also a must to avoid taking your dog out for runs before he reaches 18 months or a year old. Letting a dog younger than this run a marathon can have some serious consequences later in life.
How to Prepare Dogs for Marathons
No matter what the breed of your dog may be, it is a must that you take him to the vet first to ensure that he can handle running a marathon with you.
Before you start training your dog for a marathon, see to it that he is at the top of his game. Your dog shouldn’t be in the process of recovery from an operation or injury. Dogs shouldn’t be on heavy medications or excessively overweight either.
When you go out running with your dog, see to it that he learns and knows some basic commands to help him cope with any environment. Your dog should never pull on his leash as it can cause you both some serious injuries.
As for the ideal pace for the two of you, try to determine the natural pace of your dog during a trot. It will be the speed both of you will be running during the marathon without extremely fast running speeds or sprints.
You also need to pack treats, clean drinkable water, and food for your dog. Always keep a close eye on the condition of your dog during runs. It might mean getting more breaks than you usually would.
How to Train Your Dog for a Marathon
After establishing that you can take your dog to run a marathon with you, it is now time for you to start training your dog for it. There are several key areas of training you need to focus on, and these include the following:
● Obedience training
Don’t think about taking your dog on a marathon if he doesn’t listen to your basic commands. Your pup must be completely under your control during a marathon even when there are distractions. Teach commands like “follow,” “stay,” “come,” and others.
● Leash training
Your dog will obviously need to be on a leash, except if you are joining an off-leash marathon. Make sure your pup gets used to running on a leash that will work for both of you. It will let you control your dog and have enough room to join the marathon properly.
Get your dog used to his leash and combine it with the commands above to gauge the response of your pup. Both of you must work like a well-oiled machine for a successful and safe marathon.
● Introduce longer distances at a cautious pace
Follow the same approach for the running distance of your dog as you would for yours. Start by getting him used to regular distances and slowly and gently increase them. It will make your dog understand what is necessary for these longer distances and then adjust accordingly.
Continue this until you reach the distance of the marathon itself. After this, you can change the terrain to match what is expected on the actual marathon trails.
● Observe proper diet
Your dog must also get a well-balanced diet rich in calories and protein. Ask your vet about a specialized diet according to the marathon training. It will offer protection for their muscle mass and joints and ensure that your pup has his health in check when running longer distances for as long as possible.
● Test your dog’s behavior on trails
Testing how your dog will respond to running the marathon trails is the last but equally important aspect of your dog’s training. It includes not only the terrain but even the crowds of racers and onlookers. See to it that your pup can follow your commands, focus, and finish the marathon. It will be a complete disaster if you expose your dog to the marathon and the crowds of people right on the day itself.
Follow these tips and have fun at your next marathon with your beloved dog!