As we all know, the holidays are coming up quick and that means two things: colder weather and lots of big meals, snacks, and treats.
While most of us will sit down for a big Thanksgiving meal with our families in a few weeks, did you know that many local communities hold Turkey Trots on Thanksgiving Day or the weekend after?
What better way to get out with your family and friends and burn off some of those calories from too much stuffing? Did you also know that many people take their K9 buddies along too?
Welcome to Dog Works Radio. As we all know, the holidays are coming up quick and that means two things: colder weather and lots of big meals, snacks, and treats. While most of us will sit down for a big Thanksgiving meal with our families in a few weeks, did you know that many local communities hold Turkey Trots on Thanksgiving Day or the weekend after? What a better way to get out with your family and friends and burn off some of those calories from too much stuffing. Did you also know that many people take their K9 buddies along too. In fact, The American Kennel Club just started a virtual Turkey Trot as part of their Fit Dog Cluband you can participate! How fun is that! In today’s episode we are going to tell you all about it and how to sign up.
So, thanks to our friends from the American Kennel Club and the Dog Writers Association of America for helping us out on this episode.
After the episode, ask yourself, what new ideas has this conversation sparked for you? Then, share this episode with a family member or friends and discuss it together. As always, ping me over on Instagram at firstpawmedia. Just remember, dog training is a big commitment, and accountability is a huge part. You can do it; I believe in you!
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So, How to Do a Turkey Trot with Your Dog?
Looking for a fun new holiday tradition to share with your dog? The Turkey Trot—running/walking a 5K race—has become an increasingly popular way to spend part of Thanksgiving and now it has officially gone to the dogs! We have done many turkey trots over the years with our German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies and I did our first Turkey Trot during Thanksgiving of 2006 and had so much fun that I knew I wanted to make it an annual tradition. The AKC Turkey Trot is a great opportunity to do so while supporting great canine causes.
AKC Turkey Trot
This year, the AKC Fit Dog Program is organizing its second annual 5K Turkey Trot for dogs. Proceeds from the AKC Turkey Trot will be donated to the AKC Humane Fund, which provides assistance at domestic violence shelters that accept pets. It also supports the AKC’s Rescue Network, which supports rescued dogs and promotes responsible dog ownership. The Turkey Trot is a virtual event, meaning you and your dog can participate from anywhere. You can register for the Turkey Trot by purchasing a limited-edition commemorative medal for your dog to have once they have completed the 5K.
Traditional 5K Turkey Trots involve running and/or walking the entire 5K (3.1 miles) in one go, but the AKC Turkey Trot allows dogs and handlers to set their own schedule for meeting their Turkey Trot goal from now until November 30th. This makes it significantly more accessible to dogs and people of different ages and physical abilities for whom it might not be possible to run or walk a 5K all at one time.
Make A Plan
Consider how physically active you and your dog already are, and what is likely to feel the most fun and comfortable for both of you. If you’re feeling up for trying to do the whole 5K on Thanksgiving morning, think about what other plans or commitments you have on your schedule that day. Be sure to give you and your dog enough time to comfortably complete the Turkey Trot, including time for resting, water breaks, and, of course, opportunities for your dog to sniff and potty while you’re out.
If you’re planning to spread your Turkey Trot out over several days or weeks, plan for how far you want to go each day and how you will track your distance—either on your phone, a map, or through a GPS tracking device if your dog wears one on their collar.
It’s completely fine to walk the entire Turkey Trot, but if you and your dog are planning to do some running, it’s a good idea to do some training in advance. This can help prevent your dog from pulling or tripping you and also teach them ways to modulate their speed on cue to keep pace with you.
Supplies to Bring for Your Dog
When heading out on your Turkey Trot—regardless of whether you’re doing it all in one day or if you’ll be accumulating distance over several days—you’ll want to be sure to have supplies to keep your dog safe and comfortable. These include:
- Collapsible water bottle for your dog
- Water for your dog
- Dog treats
- A 6-foot leash that’s comfortable for you to hold or a cross-body leash so you can have your hands free for most of the run/walk
- Comfortable harness
- Collar lights, or reflective gear if you’ll be out early in the morning or in the evening so that cars will be able to see you and your dog.
Don’t Go Cold Turkey
If you’re thinking of doing a Turkey Trot with your dog, it’s important not to go “cold turkey” by trying to go from being sedentary to running a 5K overnight. If you want to do the AKC Turkey Trot, start increasing your dog’s exercise now to slowly build up their endurance for walking and/or running. This will help promote muscle development and prevent injury from doing too much too soon. If at any point on the Turkey Trot, or during your prep, your dog seems tired, sore, or uncomfortable, you should stop, take a break, or even head home and give it a try another day. Your dog’s safety and comfort are more important than finishing the Turkey Trot on the schedule that you planned.
Remember, the point of the Turkey Trot is to support a good cause and have fun with your dog. Your dog will “win” regardless of whether you run the whole 5K on Thanksgiving or if you take days, or even weeks, to walk the distance. Go at a pace that is comfortable for you and your dog. We all have different levels of physical fitness and this event is welcoming to everyone and every dog. The Turkey Trot isn’t a race—it’s a self-paced event designed to encourage you to have some fun getting fresh air and exercise with your dog.
Before increasing your dog’s exercise, or if your dog seems sore during or after exercising, it’s always a good idea to connect with your vet. If you want to do the 5K Turkey Trot all at once, especially if your dog hasn’t been especially active recently, you may want to talk with your vet to determine if that’s going to be appropriate. Similarly, with puppies whose joints are still developing, talk with your vet about the appropriate amounts of high-impact (like running on concrete) exercise, and how many walking sessions you should break the 5K into for your puppy’s orthopedic development and health.
Make It a Tradition
A fun way to incorporate the activity into your existing plans and make the Turkey Trot a new tradition is to get up on Thanksgiving and either head out to do the entire 5K or have organized your distance so you can do the last leg of the Trot together that morning. Then, come home and let your dog wear their Turkey Trot 5K medal while you watch the National Dog Show together.
We are going to take a short break here and when we come back we are going to learn all about the Fit Dog Club from the American Kennel Club
What is the Fit Dog Club?
The American Kennel Club, the world’s largest dog registry and leading advocate for dogs and their owners, announces an expansion of its FIT DOG program by recognizing clubs and organizations that provide canine fitness classes and organized canine walks as AKC FIT DOG clubs.
Bac in 2019 AKC launched the FIT DOG program to encourage owners to walk with their dogs. The program adopted the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 30 to 40 minutes of walking per session for a total of 150 minutes per week. Owners that achieve this level of activity for three months may apply for a free car magnet featuring the AKC FIT DOG logo. In the first five months of the program, owners have applied for over 1,900 magnets.
“With the AKC FIT DOG program launch, many organizations wrote to inform us about their canine fitness classes and organized canine walks. They were delighted to hear of the AKC program and adopted this standard as a reasonable goal,” said Mary Burch, PhD, Director of the AKC Family Dog Program. “The designation as an AKC FIT DOG club is meant to acknowledge these organizations and encourage additional ones to promote fitness and a healthy lifestyle for both dogs and their people.”
To become an AKC FIT DOG club, AKC clubs, independent dog training schools and other dog- related organizations must hold at least four group fitness walks per year or hold regularly- scheduled canine fitness classes. Organizations meeting this level of activity may apply for a free AKC FIT DOG club banner which includes the name of their organization. We here at Alaska Dog Works are recognized as one of the only AKC Fit Dog Clubs in the state and we hold events each summer during our Group Classes in the Park which are included in any of our dog training programs for as long as you have you dog!
“Organized canine walks are a way for AKC clubs to provide a fun and healthy activity for their local dog community,” said Doug Ljungren, Executive Vice President for Sports & Events. “In the process, clubs gain the opportunity to engage with new dog owners who may wish to join their club. The AKC FIT DOG club program provides an option if your club is seeking new members.”
To participate in the AKC FIT DOG program and earn your free car magnet, or to apply for your organization’s free AKC FIT DOG club banner, please go check out Alaska Dog Works.com
Ok…I know that this episode was just for fun. But hey all dog training should be fun, right? Before we end the show, let’s press pause for a sec…maybe ask yourself, why did this resonate with me? What aspect of my relationship with my K9 buddy could I apply this to? And what am I going to do differently this week to make my dog’s training a little easier? So, take time to mull it over, talk it out with a family member or trusted friend, put some ideas down in your training journal, and then check back next week for our next episode. And, as always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this episode. So, reach out and D.M. me over on Instagram at firstpawmedia, and let’s spark a conversation. Until then, keep going! You are doing great! It is time to create the relationship with your dog that you always dreamed of.
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