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running and health


danorocky
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Hello, we have an 11-month old, 44 lb, male. I run with him 8 miles per day. Or rather I run and he walks (fast).

The vet has stated that he should not "run" until at least 13 months of age. The dog clearly enjoys the run, and he really needs an outlet for his energy.

 

Question: is his rapid walking (aka running) going to cause problems? Thanks a lot for any help.

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Welcome! This board is a great source of information about Border Collies, and I hope you post questions, read, learn, and contribute. And pictures - we always enjoy pictures!

 

I am no expert but I would think that the amount of activity you are giving this young dog (who has not yet attained skeletal or muscular maturity, and whose growth plates should still be open) sounds like too much, too soon. It is not simply a matter of impact (running versus walking) or surface (hard versus more yielding) but also a matter of repetitive movement.

 

Whether or not he "clearly loves the run" is not the issue. Many young dogs (and young people) would "clearly love" to do something to an extent that is not beneficial to their health in the long run. Some will exert themselves and apparently enjoy it when they are really doing harm to their bodies, especially growing bodies. That is why playing frisbee and other games that involve jumping is not recommended for sub-adult dogs. It is both at matter of impact and of repetition.

 

It is a myth among many that Border Collies require enormous amounts of physical activity. Yes, they are often high-energy dogs and lots of activity is enjoyed. But mental activity is more important than physical (those things that require mental energy, like teaching manners, tricks, and other activities). In addition, it is easy to fall into the trap (trust me, I've done it often enough) of thinking that the pup or young dog (or adult dog) needs tons of physical activity, when you are only accustoming that dog to all that activity so indeed it "requires" it - because it is used to it, accustomed to it, and habituated to it.

 

Working-bred Border Collies in particular are known for having "off-switches" or being able to have reasonably long periods of doing nothing much. There are people who may breed hyper-dogs (often found in those that breed for sports performance rather than working traits - please read "Read this first" to understand the philosophy of these boards) that do have a hard time being calm and quiet.

 

My personal suggestion might be to walk your youngster a reasonable amount (maybe a couple of miles, maybe less, depending on the surface), allow him time to run off-lead if you have a safe situation for that, and do your running with another partner. When he is more mature, growth plates are closed, and less likely to experience ill effects (over time) from longer distances, then it might be doable. Since I don't know if this is too much for an adult dog on the surfaces you travel and on a daily basis, I won't try and say yes or no for that.

 

Others will chime in with better advice and more knowledge than I have. Very best wishes!

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Yep, what Sue said. 8 miles is a lot to run for a puppy/adolescent, especially several days a week. Many dogs, and border collies in particular, will ignore pain until the damage is really severe. Or, this kind of high impact, repetitive pounding on his young and still growing joints could set him up for problems later on.

 

Working their brilliant little brains is a good way to get a bc calmer, more attentive to you, and happier all around. Basic obedience training, trick training, helping around the house like a service dog would, teaching all these makes a dog a lot easier to live with.

 

Ruth

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^^I'll just second what Sue and Ruth said. You may not see the bad results from overdoing high-impact, repetitive activities now, but sooner or later your young dog will pay for overdoing it before fully mature. He should have been allowed to grow up and his growth plates closed (closer to 18 months) before all the repetitive exercise. You can't undo any damage that may already have been done, but if I were you, I'd follow Sue's advice and let him finish growing and then pick up the running again.

 

And remember, while these dogs are energetic, you can **create** a dog that needs to run 8 miles a day (or be exercised hard for three hours or whatever) by doing just what you're doing. When they are young is the best time to teach them how to be quiet and settle. No well-bred border collie actually *needs* 8 miles of running a day or hours of exercise. That's usually the result of the human buying into the "they need tons of exercise" myth and then creating a dog just like that.

 

J.

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No well-bred border collie actually *needs* 8 miles of running a day or hours of exercise. That's usually the result of the human buying into the "they need tons of exercise" myth and then creating a dog just like that.

 

J.

 

It's a case of the message getting through too well.

In an attempt to prevent people taking on BCs when their lifestyle/level of committment couldn't provide their likely needs and the dogs ending up in rescue (at best), an attempt hasd been made to educate the public into understanding that being stuck at home all day with no interaction and no exercise isn't going to work.

Unfortunately the message hasn't got through to the people who need to hear it, whilst responsible owners often take it as aimed at them and meaning that the dog will need vast amounts of running every day. To their credit, they often try to give the dog that but in the process create a rod for their own back, as you say. Good intentions but unnecessary.

 

Pam

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I'm very cautious about what my young dogs do and don't do for exercise. I have a hip dysplastic dog that when I got her (11 years almost) I knew nothing about (she's a lab), and I ran her and did things that I know now is not smart for a young dog with bones that are developing. I would think that you are over doing it on the running for that young age. I have 4 young BC or BC mixes - 4/3/2/1 and I can guarantee you that mine don't get that much running each day! Mental stimulation at that age to get him/her focused on you and using their brain will work wonders for tiring out. This has just been my experiences over the years. :rolleyes:

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