Murphy knows when it’s time for a run.
He knows which drawer his mom’s running gear is in.
He knows why she’s packing water and cookies.
And the 1½-year-old Australian shepherd can hardly contain his excitement when his running leash comes out.
“He just starts freaking out. He’s at the door, ready to go,” said his owner, Christy Kriegler.
Murphy will show off six months of training at the Tails ‘n Trails, a local trail race for pooches and their humans. He’ll tackle a 10K on Saturday — more than double what he walked during last year’s race.
Pups, much like their humans, have to train and build up their mileage. Kriegler didn’t start running with Murphy until he was a year old and got the OK from his vet.
People can log miles on the treadmill during winter months, but odds are Fido doesn’t have a gym membership to do the same. When training man’s best friend as a running buddy, consult your vet first, said Cathy Guinane, director of community training at the Nebraska Humane Society.
Dogs should be out of the puppy stages before running so their bones and joints are fully developed, Guinane said.
Puppyhood is a good time to prep for running by teaching the basics. Dogs should know their name, come when called and be able to ignore distractions along the route. Most important, they should know how to walk on a loose leash and stay at their human’s side during a run.
If Murphy is tempted to check out another dog or a person, Kriegler says “with me” as his cue that he can’t go. As far as ignoring critters on their trail runs?
“He’s so fast that he drags me to see what animal there is. That one we’re working on,” she said.
Murphy can run up to 7 miles now. When Kriegler needs to tackle distances longer than that, she drops Murphy off at home, where he watches through the window as she leaves.
Rachel Warne, race director for Tails ‘n Trails, is an avid runner. One of her rescue dogs accompanies her on some runs. The 5-year-old shepherd mix is full of energy. But Warne has to ease the pooch back into the routine after winter.
“It’s kind of like a Couch to 5K,” she said. “You’ve got to condition them like you would any other animal or person.”
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Alaskan malamute: Best for long-distance runs.
This breed can run long distances in cold or cooler weather. Because of their heavy coats, they aren’t suited for running in summer temps.
Australian shepherd: Best for long, steady trail runs.
A herding dog, Australian shepherds have energy to chase sheep all day long. They’re not sprinters, but they can handle a long distance on a trail.
Beagle: Best for brisk, short runs or long, slow runs.
These small hounds may have short legs, but they’re active and need plenty of exercise. Natural hunting dogs, they can handle brisk, short runs or longer runs at a slower pace.
Border collie: Best for long, steady trail runs.
Like Australian shepherds, border collies are full of energy. They aren’t sprinters, but they can handle a long distance on a trail.
Greyhound: Best for brisk, short runs.
A greyhound’s build — long legs and a deep chest — makes it a natural runner. They’re best for running quickly over a short distance. Don’t expect your greyhound to go for long-distance runs.
German shorthaired pointer: Best for long, steady trail runs.
These sporting dogs are good at sustained exercise in the field. They’re good for long, steady trail runs.
Labrador retriever: Best for brisk, short runs or long, slow runs.
Labs and other retrievers are hunting dogs, bred to cover long distances in fields. They can tackle brisk, short runs or longer, slower runs. Don’t ask them to sprint.
Parson Russell terrier: Best for long-distance runs.
These terriers are 13 to 14 inches tall, but they’re fast enough to run alongside horses. This breed is best suited for long, steady runs.
Rhodesian ridgeback: Best for long-distance runs.
Originally a big game hunter, the Rhodesian ridgeback is speedy and has plenty of endurance. These pups excel at long, steady runs.
Siberian husky: Best for long-distance runs.
Bred to pull sleds with light loads, huskies are good at running long distances at a moderate speed. Like the Alaskan malamute, they aren’t suited for hot-weather running.
Vizsla: Best for long, steady trail runs.
This high-energy breed, that requires plenty of exercise, does well on long, steady trail runs. The vizsla’s gait helps to easily cover a lot ground.
Weimaraner: Best for long, steady trail runs.
Weimaraners have speed and endurance. They are best for steady trail runs.
Dogs with short-muzzled faces and short legs: Best for walking.
Dogs with short-muzzled faces, including pugs, shih tzus and Pekingese, should not be walking more than a mile at a time. Short-legged breeds such as chihuahuas may not be ideal running partners either.
Mary Burch, director of the American Kennel Club’s family dog program, said training will vary by individual dogs.
If you want your dog to run a 5K with you, make sure they can walk that distance first, Burch said. Then try running for a quarter mile. Slowly increase their running distance by a quarter mile each week.
Use a surface that has some give, like grass or a trail, instead of concrete, Burch said, to protect their joints.
Once pooches are up to sniff ... er ... snuff on the running routine, their owners should be aware of the weather. The higher the mercury rises on the thermometer, the shorter a dog’s run should be. Owners should go out at cooler times of day. For any breed, 80 degrees is likely too hot, said Guinane, with the Humane Society. Consider the heaviness of your dog’s coat in deciding when to run, too.
Bring water for the dog and give them breaks along the route.
“They can’t look at you and say, ‘This is too much,’ ” Guinane said.
Running helped Jenifer Snook and her dog get in shape.
Snook adopted Whiskey, the part American Staffordshire terrier and part vizsla, eight years ago.
Snook talked to her vet about safety basics, and because she wasn’t a runner, they didn’t start off with long distances. Now the dog can run up to 10 miles with Snook. Since running with Whiskey, Snook has two full marathons and several half marathons under her sneakers.
“I used to be one who said I couldn’t run across the street to save my life and now I’ve run two fulls,” Snook said.
One perk for running with a pooch: You’re never alone on the course.
“You know you’ve always got somebody,” Guinane said. “You don’t have to set up a time. A dog’s ready to go.”
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