I always wanted to adopt a dog. Living a fairly transient life in New York and later Chicago made this difficult. After marrying my husband we decided we were settled enough to add another member to the family. A google search and several outings later we found a
boxer-shepherd mix pit bull at the pound and named her Dee.
As a puppy Dee was super high energy. We subscribed to the “Dog Whisperer” philosophy of wearing her out until she was too tired to be anything but calm and well-behaved. When she became a pro at leash walking, I decided it was time to try running. Being such a high energy girl I figured this would be right up her alley…as it turns out I was wrong. 2 minutes in Dee was trailing behind. 3 minutes in she was lying on her side in someone’s yard.
There is no physical explanation for Dee’s lack of enthusiasm for running. She is 50 lbs of pure muscle and could win a figure competition by a landslide (if there were such a thing for dogs). For a while I gave up and ran my morning loop solo, picking her up afterwards for a walk. Eventually I got tired of wasting time and decided to think like a trainer. What would I do to help a client work up to a steady-state run? Thus began Dee’s physical training.
Though I initially wanted to jump right to running, I took a step back and started with run/walking since Dee is more of a sprinter than a marathoner. I also played upon her motivation, taking her out first thing in the morning. I realized that she was more apt to push through a workout with breakfast waiting for her at home.
Getting Dee out in the morning involves picking her up off the couch, standing her on four legs, and nudging her out the door. Initially I felt guilty force-marching her through this process but no more. Upon our return she comes in tail wagging, relaxed, and clearly proud of what she’s accomplished. Just like any reluctant client Dee might hem and haw, but ultimately our runs increase her well-being.
We’ve been at this for a while now and, though I still have to peel her up off the couch each morning, the whole process has become easier. We’ve even gotten my husband to join us on the weekends (the process for getting him up is very similar to what I go through with Dee…). The moral of the story? We all need some encouragement and, if you can relate to Dee, go ahead and find yourself a workout buddy. This person should:
A.) Have the patience to take time to get you were you need to be
B.) Know how to effectively motivate you to get the job done
c.) Have the strength to “peel you off the couch” knowing that you’ll be grateful they did it afterward
Word on the street is there are some dogs who actually wake their owners up to go outside…I’ll believe it when I see it.