Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Dogs easily learn what predicts what in their world — trainers often refer to this type of learning as "classical conditioning." Opening the treat jar predicts treats. Leashes predict walks and, at some point running shoes/clothes will predict runs!!! Nothing will better teach your dog the commands than practice and what we call positive reinforcement.
Practice, in this case, means backlogging kilometers together and positive reinforcement means you are rewarding the behaviors you like, and ignoring the behaviors you do not like.
A reward stimulus can be food, or a variety of other things including toys, freedom to roam, walks, play, and much more. But you can imagine how hard can it be to reward your dog while running?
Except for the clicker! Have you ever heard about it? The click is a much faster and more distinct than saying “good dog” and much more effective than using treats alone - mainly while running. To teach a dog the meaning of the click, a treat is given immediately after clicking. And once the dog learns the positive effects of the clicking sound, the clicker itself acts as a conditioned reinforcer and will be enough and easily carried while running.
(Read more about clicker training here)
So now, as a next tip, I would suggest you to start running the same route with your dog every day so she will learn the way and you can start inserting gestures (if she is not running in front of you) and voice commands for each and every action such as turning right or left, stopping, keep running, pull, slow down and so on. And, of course, reinforcing by clicking her after every correct action. However, I recommend you to start with 2 commands at the time. I would begin with "turn right" and "turn left" for instance.
Where the dog runs is another important aspect of running together. And as I already mentioned on my last post, I mostly let my dogs choose where they prefer to run - as soon as we all are safe, of course. But if you want to teach your dog the command to run besides you and he insists to run in front of you, for instance, you will probably need to bring some treats on the first times. On the other hand, if she runs besides you and you want her to run in front of you, all you have to do is slow down, give the command and click her as soon as she is in front of you!
For the "keep going" command, it's important that YOU keep going. For that reason it's also important you make sure your dog peed and pooped before you start. Otherwise she will inevitably HAVE to stop on the way.
With time, she will definitively associate the gestures and words with the actions and you will be able to try new routes. And of course you can reinforce this training by doing it during daily walks as well.
At some point you won't need to bring the clicker to every run anymore, but if you think about teaching your dog something new to be used while running, make sure you call back on it!
Hope this was a great reading with useful tips!
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Next time I will write about safety while running with your dog!