The Old Trainer: New dog will love running

New dog will love running

March 10, 2012 

Dear Old Trainer:

I just adopted

Cruiser, a 2-year-old Samoyed mix. I run 45 miles a week and want him to run with me. Is eight miles too much in one day?

-- Jarrett, Livingston

A: Congratulations. You just got a better running companion than if you had a friend from Kenya. Eight miles is barely enough to get Cruiser warmed up. A Samoyed can handle 25 to 30 miles a day with ease.

Like a human runner, though, he needs to work his way up to distance running. Take him one mile the first day, then a couple of days at two miles. Add a mile every few days and he will be ready for eight miles in three weeks.

If he's carrying extra weight, take it slower until he loses the fat. Samoyeds are skinnier than Victoria Beckham when they're in shape. If Cruiser doesn't have that look, keep him at two miles a day until he does. If he has his heavy winter coat, give him a summer haircut. Make sure your route includes a creek or fountain so he can drink during the run.

You are about to learn how much fun it is to run with a dog who was born to run. By the end of the month, Cruiser will know what time you run and bring your running shoes to hurry you up.

Dear Old Trainer: We have two family dogs, Rita, a 5-year old golden, and Cora, a 6-year old Lab, who behave like angels. We just rescued Zoya, a 10-month old Lab mix who will join us in two weeks. Will this cause a problem with the older dogs, and what is the best way to train her?

-- Dima, Lodi

A: No problem for Rita and Cora, no problem for you. You have the canine Rule of Thirds in your favor.

The photography Rule of Thirds is an aid the experts use in composing their pictures. The canine version holds that adding a third dog gives you a 50 percent increase in enjoyment at a cost of only 1 percent increase in your time.

The reason is that your older dogs do most of the training. They keep her in line, show her the ropes and love on her. Young dogs are like little brothers -- they imitate everything they see their hero do -- so let Zoya tag along on walks and to the dog park. She will learn commands and hand signals watching the other two.

Don't worry if Rita and Cora snarl and bristle a little when Zoya arrives. They're teaching Zoya the pack rules. Watch and you will learn a few lessons about training. Don't interfere, let them work it out on their own. They have the right to protect their toys and their favorite spots in the house and the car. Feed Zoya at the same time and in the same place you feed the older dogs, but watch until all three are finished.

Separate Zoya from the other two when working on basic commands they already know. It makes the older dogs uncomfortable if they see the leader unhappy and having to discipline or correct the new dog. They think they have done something wrong.

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