Keeping your canine happy

I mentioned it earlier this week, but I’ll say it again: long-course triathlon is a selfish sport. Almost every evening involves training, along with some mornings. Weekends are basically written off with hours of training on the schedule.

In between there you fit in full-time work, grocery shopping and food prep, laundry and other house work, and trying to maintain relationships.

I think we’re pretty tame with our training. While many people put in numerous 20+ hour weeks of training, we might put together 14 hours on heavy weeks.

I feel very fortunate in that my husband and I often train together. We also have very supportive family and friends.

However, there’s a lot that gets missed. I don’t visit my niece or family nearly enough. My house could use a deep clean, and I basically only see friends once a month at book club.

The thing I feel the most guilt about is our dog. He’s our furbaby and spends many summer days cooped up in the house while we’re at work, and then out training.


You know he’s feeling a little neglected when he opens your swimming bag zippers and chews your pull buoy, grabs your running shoes and dangles them from his mouth, entices you in games of tug when you’re stretching and strength training, and snuggles so close when you’re trying to work your core. (All real life examples.)


Here are a few simple ways to give your pet some extra time/loving:

  • Wake up earlier and double up . With an already early wake up time, waking up even earlier can be a struggle. But it’s worth it. I wake up 15 minutes earlier to take Harold for a quick walk before heading out for the day.Harry_early
    He loves the extra attention and exercise, and I LOVE starting my day with a brisk walk with my little buddy. Then after work, workouts and supper, we take him for a long walk every evening. It’s nice to spend some time together that’s not training time and Harold gets in his exercise for the day!
  • Take five.  After working all day, I like to get my workout on as soon as I get home. If I dawdle, it’s tough to get motivated. But I take the time to play with Harold for at least five-10 minutes. If it’s nice, I sit with him in the yard or take him for a quick walk. If it’s not nice, we’ll play tug in the basement. Kelly does the same when he gets home, so Harold gets a double dose!


  • Move your workout outside. If you’re working out at home, move it outside. On warm days when I do strength or physio exercises, I haul all my gear upstairs and outside (weights, medicine ball, kettle bells, yoga mat, and foam roller). That way Harold can be outside with somebody instead of being left in the yard alone.OutsideWork1
  • Incorporate them in to your exercise. If we go for a recovery run or short brick run, we leash up the hound and take him along. Or, if we’re hitting the trails and take him, we plan for a fast run!SAM_0334
  • Do something fun. We try to include Harold in our plans when we go camping. He loves being outside and especially in the mountains. It takes a bit of juggling or skipping workouts on our part, but it’s nice to take him along! If we have a little extra time on the weekend, we take him to our river valley to walk on the beautiful trails there.


I know I’m a crazy dog mom, but a dog is the owner’s responsibility. I feel bad enough for city dogs of people who work outside the home. Throw training in there, and they can be alone a lot of the time.

Are you a dog person? What kind of dog do you have? If not, what kind would you like?

50 responses to “Keeping your canine happy

  1. I am definitely a dog person. We have a Shihtzu and this really hit home for me. I know we don’t nearly give him enough outside time and many days he also spends in the house. This post has inspired me to start taking more walks with our Chester, at least 3 – 4 times a week.

  2. Oh man, I have tons of dog-mommy guilt at times. Luckily for me, Ada the Dog is a super amazing runner, so I can take her with me, which helps. Plus, I don’t train for long triathlons which helps! Another idea is doggie daycare. Ada is super social, so she loooooves playing with other pups all day, and I don’t have to feel guilty about her getting ignored!

    • That’s awesome you can take Ada with you when you run! She definitely looks like a fast runner.
      I love the idea of doggie daycare, but Harold definitely wouldn’t do well there!

  3. Hi Abby, I’m new to your blog, I love it! I love dogs, I have a border collie/german shepherd mix and I definitely can relate with feeling guilty when she is home alone. We do our best to keep her active in our limited free time but I can definitely do a better job at making more time. Have a great day!

  4. These are great tips! I would have a dog if my apartment building allowed it. However, my parents have 2 dogs which i consider “mine” – both boston terriers. One of them is a mini boston so he gets his exercise by running around the backyard a few times and he’s pooped. The other comes on hikes with us when we go. My mom also likes to bring him for protection, since its a vulnerable feeling being alone in the woods.

  5. Even though you might not always have as much time as you’d like for Harold, it’s quite obvious how much you love and think about him!

  6. I took our dog on a walk this morning because of your post yesterday. He’s been exhausted snoozing on the couch ever since!

  7. Hi, I’m a new reader… I love your blog name. And aww, I wish I had a dog to walk/run with. I’m not a huge dog person (puppies stress me out, even though they’re so cute) but I hope one day I can have a friend to get me exercising even more!

  8. I love this, I can totally relate. I feel really bad lately for our furbaby! I decided to wake up much earlier and take her on a quick 2 mile run with me, or a nice long walk. And I go home now more on my lunch to walk her…its nice esp when the weather is great : ) luckily, I live close to my work!

    Love my furbaby!!

  9. This is so sweet! Our four-legged baby, MacAfee, has enjoyed many trail runs, backpacking trips, and walks with our girls. Even though he’s almost 10, he still loves to run ‘zoomies’ around our yard. If we even say the word ‘walk,’ he goes CRAZY.

  10. I just read this to Indy and replaced the athlete part with new baby. You are such good owners. More people should truly think about all the responsibility it comes with.

    • Lol- I bet Indy had some confusing days at the beginning with so much attention on Ryder!
      I completely agree. People really need to think about the time and responsibility involved with owning a dog or other pet.

  11. He’s so cute and I love that you make extra time for him. I totally relate to what you are saying…when I did an IM, it was before kids. Now that I have them, I know I couldn’t train that way and be ok on the guilt front. Others do just fine, but it wouldn’t work for me.

  12. I have a lot of guilt when my wife is out of town, since the dogs (3 of them, each around 70lbs) are inside all day when I’m at work. They get 2 walks a day, but on those long days I always get up early so they can have some extra outside time before I leave. I recently started riding my trainer in the backyard, so that I get in my own exercise and they get extra outside time.

  13. Harold is so dang cute!!! I love that he always looks like the sun is in his eyes!! (like half squinting) 🙂
    I do not have a dog. I don’t have time or the will. I want to get a Boston Terrier one day. Maybe when life settles down a bit.

  14. I love how concerned you are that Harold gets enough time with you in the midst of Ironman training. I have a Golden Retriever and he definitely reminds us when we are not giving him enough attention!

  15. i don’t have a pet, because i know i wouldn’t have time, space, or money for one! training is hard enough to fit in with my schedule — juggling your pet’s schedule must be difficult to do as well!

  16. runnerbydefault

    Love this post!! Harold is so cute! I am definitely a dog person. Our Boston terrier is almost 14 years old and still pretty active. He goes everywhere with us. And if you are a crazy dog mom then so am I!!! 🙂

  17. Great ideas to keep your dog happy! I have 1 dog, a breaded collie mix , his name is Dexter and he will be 3 yrs old in August. He has tons of energy!!

  18. triathlonobsession

    Awww. My Lucy is our Portugese Water Dog who’s afraid of the water. She can go up to 7 miles on a run but sometimes she feels lazy so my husband will go short and try to trick her into finding me so she keeps trotting. The only time she tried to swim was when she jumped in the pool to rescue me, but then I had a rescue her because she sunk like a rock. 🙂 She’s our first dog and I can’t imagine life without her!

  19. You are NOT a crazy dog mom, you are a PERFECT dog mom. It makes me so angry when people neglect their pets thinking they can manage alone. Furbabies need just as much love as real babies! I LOVE this post.

  20. My parents used to have a westie and I loved him to pieces. I was so distraught when he had to be put down. G and I are agreed not to get any animals though as we do too much traveling and are way too selfish with our time. Also, none of our family (and now friends!) live near, so we couldn’t just offload the dog for a weekend if we had to… Maybe once we’re older! 😉

  21. Aw I love, love, love dogs! As soon as I have my own house, I plan to get one! Harold seems very loved and I’m glad you’re able to incorporate him into the workouts. I grew up with a dog that just passed away and I miss him so much! They truly are little “fur-babies.”


    Harold is so adorable. His name seems to suit him!
    We have a mutt (they say she’s a collie mix?) from the Detroit Humane Society. We got her in August 2006… so almost 7 years ago. She loves a walk, but can’t really do a longer one anymore. She gets quite tired. I am VERY MUCH a dog person.

  23. I am definitely a dog person! I have a cute little Shih Tzu named Bosco (who I think is the CUTEST thing ever!!). 🙂 Harold is so adorable!

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