Although their popularity may not compare to that of the German shepherd and Labs, Siberian Huskies have been existing for quite a while. These dogs were originally associated with the Chukchi people of Northeastern Asia. However, they have grown in fame to become highly adored family companions all over the world. Their beautiful and athletic bodies alongside the friendly demeanor gives them almost everything that most canine lovers want in dogs. But that shouldn’t lure you to adopt one if you aren’t sure whether he will turn a perfect companion for you. In other words, there is more to know about these dogs other than their beauty and personality. For instance, if you are a marathoner, you will need information about whether they can make great running companions.
So, can huskies run long distances? Well, these dogs are great runners. Their great running ability came out clearly in the historic ”serum run” where a team of these dogs was expected to rush diphtheria cure to Nome in Alaska, a distance of about 658 miles. Amazingly, the team delivered the antitoxins in just five and a half days, 6 days earlier of the estimated number of days the run would take.
General Information About Siberian Huskies
Before we dig deeper to examine their running ability, it’s good to begin by understanding the basic information about these lovely dogs. So, what are Siberian Huskies, anyway?
Siberian Huskies are medium-sized dogs. They are a member of the working-group category of dogs. When fully grown, these canines will have a shoulder height of anywhere between 20-24 inches and 35-60 pounds of body weight. Huskies have a medium-sized double coat that keeps them cozy during periods of extreme coldness. The coat comes in a multitude of colors ranging from pure white to pure black with most of them having a variety of markings on the head.
Siberian Huskies are very gentle and friendly to all members of the family. This is because other than pulling sleds, these wolf-like dogs were bred to serve as excellent family companions. In fact, they normally get along very well with all members of the family whether humans or fellow pets. Also, you will notice that canines belonging to this breed are very alert, intelligent, outgoing, and don’t show the possessive qualities seen in guard dogs.
How Good Are Huskies At Running?
Now that we know that these canines already have a rich and interesting history when it comes to running, are the modern-day Huskies as good as their ancestors at running? Well, although the Great Serum Run took place in 1925, we must admit that Siberian Huskies still register great performances in running to date. It seems that running is one thing that is locked deep in their genetic makeup. And having that said, just how good are the modern Siberian Huskies when it comes to long-distance runs?
Recently, Siberian Huskies have been clocked to run at an amazing speed of between 28-30 miles per hour (mph). This is about 45-48 kilometers per hour (km/h). But just like with other animals, huskies are unable to maintain this pace for a very long time. However, when running at a slower speed, they have excellent endurance and can run for hours without taking a break. For instance, a sled team of these dogs can sustain the pace of 10-11 mph (16-18 km/h) for several hours. In fact, when running as a team, these dogs can cover a distance as large as 150 miles in a single day.
That said, it’s now clear that even though Huskies may not achieve the top speed of Greyhound dogs, they outshine them on grounds of endurance. Their ability to run for many hours nonstop means that they can eventually cover a longer distance than quicker dogs that can only run for a short period. In other words, we can see these dogs as great marathoners and not sprinters.
How Can You Make Your Husky A Better Runner
In one of his famous quotes, Kevin Durant said “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” Now, from this quote, it’s easy to see that even though the Siberian Huskies are naturally great runners, it still takes some effort to unleash this ability. That’s why you will need to train your dog on how to run.
Training helps in building endurance, an important component that every runner needs to have. Building endurance means that you are trying to train the dog to run for long distances more comfortably. This means that a Siberian Husky that has been trained to run will maintain a top pace for longer than one that is untrained.
Why You Should Learn to Run With Your Siberian Husky
Now that we know that Huskies can make great running companions, are there any benefits of running with your pooch? Well, of course, there are. Below are some of the perks you get by running with your Siberian Husky.
It Keeps You Healthy
As aforestated, Siberian Huskies have athletic bodies and are very energetic. Therefore, to keep them physically fit, exercise plays a major role, just like in humans. Going for a run with your dog helps them expel the excess amount of energy. This way, they will have none left for undesired behaviors such as chewing and digging. Apart from benefiting your dog, running lets you burn excess fat and keep your weight within a safe range.
It Unleashes The Best In You
Although Huskies have an impressive history in running, this doesn’t mean that your canine is as good as the team that made headlines in 1925. Chances are that those dogs had trained for the best part of their lives, something that your Husky hasn’t. Therefore, embarking on long-distance running with your Husky will help make him better and better. On your side, running with your Husky will help build endurance.
Huskies Are Great Motivators
Huskies can produce amazing running performance even on their first time. In fact, odds are that your Husky will outrun you in only a few days of training. It’s one thing they do with passion. Hence, having one join the run will motivate you to push harder and harder. The partnership will also make the run more fun. Therefore, instead of focusing on the number of calories burned compared to your existing record, you will concentrate on enjoying the fun in the run.
Running With Your Dog Ensures Consistency
When you train your Husky to run with you, he will always be looking forward to that moment. That sad look in their face when you display signs of skipping your routine run fills you with guilt, making it hard for you to dodge any of the runs. A few studies reveal that people who run with their canines are more likely to maintain discipline in their running routine. Hence, if you are struggling to stick to your running schedule, you just learned a new thing!
It Keeps You Mentally Fit
Humans and dogs experience anxieties and stress. When not addressed, these conditions can attract life-threatening medical complications. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million people in the United States. The ADAA group of experts go ahead to recommend exercise as an effective way of improving a depressed mood. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, feel-good brain chemicals that enhance your well-being.
When it comes to dogs, they can also suffer anxieties. In one of their journals, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) claims that separation anxiety may affect up to 40% of dogs. That is just one of the many types of anxieties. Therefore, as you go for a run with your dog, it will help both of you to beat stress and anxiety and keep you mentally healthy.
When Should You Begin Running With Your Husky?
Just because these dogs were born to run, it doesn’t mean that they are born ready for the challenge. Therefore, before you begin to run with your Husky pup, ensure that he is fit for the run. Experts suggest that you have to wait until your Husky Puppy is at least 6 months before you can begin exercising them. In the first 6 months, Huskies are still developing and their bones and muscles aren’t mature enough to take a strenuous amount of exercise.
Thus, involving your canine in strenuous exercise at a young age can cause developmental disorders. But even if your pup is over 6 months of age, get a vet to confirm his health status before you begin to run with him. This way, you will be sure that the exercise won’t do more harm than good to your four-pawed friend.
Important Tips When Running With Your Husky
Remember To Start Him Off Humbly
If your Husky has never run before, you shouldn’t expect him to keep going for several hours nonstop just because it’s something they have in their genes. Just like with any other dog, when training your Husky, begin by with short distances with several breaks. You can then increase the distance weekly until they are good to run for long distances.
Stay Alert When Running With Your Dog
To run for several hours non-stop, endurance is key. That’s why we consider Huskies as having excellent endurance. However, they aren’t born with this ability. It’s something they build up with time. That said, ensure that you don’t overexert your dog. Pay attention to their physical signs to know when you are overworking them. Excessive panting, unwillingness to continue with the run, and pain and discomfort are a few indicators that your dog is getting too much exercise than they deserve.
Don’t Forget To Carry Water
Before you begin a run with your dog, ensure that both of you are well hydrated. Although Huskies were bred to work with minimal food and water requirements, they still need water to keep the run comfortable. Therefore, when running with your Husky, remember to bring along a water bottle. When running, ensure that you stay alert to detect any signs that your Husky needs a water break. These dogs are likely to become dehydrated faster than their human partners. Also, most of the time they will dehydrate before they get tired.
Choose Your Routes Wisely
One thing you have to remember is that your dog is running with bare paws. Although we may not compare their paws with the human feet, the dog’s paws are too delicate for running long distances on hard surfaces. Therefore, before setting out for a run with your Husky, be sure that the route you are following is safe for both of you. Avoid rocky and other hard surfaces at all costs. After coming back home from a run, clean your dog’s paws and inspect them carefully for any injuries sustained. In case there are, seek medical attention as soon as possible. In dogs, even minor injuries can graduate to life-threatening conditions.
Be Keen of the Weather
Siberian Huskies were bred to operate on snowy surfaces and in sub-zero temperatures. That’s why they have a double coat to retain their body heat when the outside temperatures fall. However, during hot weather, the thick coat can cause them trouble. It makes them overheat when they stay in the sun for a long time. Exercise is another factor that may increase their body temperature. Thus, when exercising your Husky in hot weather, you are simply trying to make him overheat.
Overheating, commonly known as heatstroke is very common in dogs. It is a much serious condition than most pet owners view it. Heatstroke can lead to more serious medical conditions, permanent tissue damage, and even death. Therefore, if you are leaving in areas that experience high temperatures, rescheduling the run to times of the day when the temperatures are low is a good way to play it safe. So, what temperature is too much for your Husky? Well, experts suggest that you avoid exercising your dog when temperatures are above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This translates to about 21 degrees Celsius.
Never Forget To Warm-Up
Before you begin running with your Husky, you need to warm-up. Although it’s something that most people overlook, warming up before a high-intensity exercise like running goes a long way to prevent muscle injuries. It helps activate the muscles and get them ready for a more strenuous affair. Warming-up brings about increased flow of blood to the muscles which in turn warms them up and makes them more pliable. The increased flexibility minimizes the chances of strains.
How Much Exercise Does A Husky Need?
Siberian Huskies are super-active canines. They have heaps of energy and will need a lot of regular exercises to get rid of the excess. That’s why they make perfect companions for super active dog lovers who love adventures. So, how much exercise is enough for your Husky? According to the People’s Dispensary For Sick Animals (PDSA), a well-grown and fully-fit Siberian Husky dog will need 2 hours of exercise daily. This need matches those of other breeds such as the Golden retriever, Samoyed, Dalmatian, Border Collie, and others. PDSA goes to suggest that if possible, it’s good to split the exercise into several sessions a day.
Other Ways of Exercising Your Husky
Huskies are very active dogs. Therefore, they need regular exercise to keep them warm. Most of them will always appreciate a long run with you when they are fit. However, running isn’t the only way you can help your Husky burn the excess amount of energy. Here are other ways of exercising your dog in days when you don’t feel like going out for the normal run.
A Daily Walk
You should not train your dog to run when they have not developed fully. Surprisingly, most of them show some bursts of energy when just a few days of age. At this time, you may consider taking your puppy for short walks. For every week they add to their age, 2 minutes of walking will be enough to keep them healthy. Therefore, if your puppy is 8 weeks old, the walk should not take longer than 16 minutes. However, keep a keen eye on your puppy to afford them a break where necessary.
Siberian Huskies always want to remain close to their loved ones. Therefore, they will always welcome any suggestions that will allow them to interact with their human partners. That’s why they love playing with the 2-legged members of the pack. While it’s a great way to create a strong bond, playing with your Husky will also help them use up the excess amount of energy.
Among the games you can consider playing with your Husky, is the good old tug-of-war. They really love the game will always demand more once they catch on the concept. The Frisbee is also another game given that they have strong back legs for jumping.
It’s undeniable that dog agility is one of the most interesting canine sports currently. In this sport, a handler directs the dog through several obstacles such as tunnels, weave poles, pause tables, standard jumps, and more. Because of the amount of fun that it packs, dog agility is one of the canine sports that are becoming popular and popular in the United States. This is according to the American Kennel Club.
Navigating through obstacles in the shortest time possible helps to challenge the dogs mentally and strengthens their muscles. Since Huskies are light-footed and good at jumping, agility is one of the sports they can excel in. You can enroll him for agility classes in one of the training centers. However, you can still train him from home if you have the skills and the necessary gear. American Kennel Club provides some of the tips for practicing agility at home.