Dogs Teach Tricks, Too

Ever watch dogs at play, carefree? Next time you go on an off-leash hike with a canine, or even just a walk around the neighborhood, watch how they just jog along. Assuming they aren’t in pursuit of cat, squirrel, or pedestrian, it’s an easy trot, an effortless series of flicks of the ankle joints. It’s smooth, and their heads and shoulders stay mostly level with the ground. No off balanced dipping or stumbling. Oh, sure, the composure goes out the window when a frisbee’s let fly and they tear off after it, tongue flapping and fur rustling and muscles pumping, but to watch a calm, curious off-leash dog trot around, checking out the surroundings, sniffing, and just taking it all in is to watch an animal at total, complete ease in his own (furry) skin. We can learn a lot from watching dogs, as I have from my own Yellow Lab, Buddha.

The thing about dogs is they’re always waiting for you to do something. They tend to dote. Good dogs do this, anyway. Loyal, selfless, and always eager to please, a good dog will watch your every move, or at least be ever aware of your position in their general vicinity. Dogs are a strange mix of wild animal and family member. They think they’re people, basically.

That makes it hard to watch a dog just be a dog. It certainly can’t be done inside a house or apartment, and even a big backyard isn’t ideal. You’ve got to get the dog outside, in its natural, ancestral setting, with earth and foliage and wildlife and millions of smells, sights, and sounds, if you truly wish to observe a dog being a dog, free and uninhibited. We run Buddha on the beach or on trails near our house. Dog parks are another option. Because when you watch a dog, you’re essentially looking at a wolf playing a domesticated family pet. That dog may be man’s best friend, but he also yearns to run free through field and fen from time to time. Don’t believe me? Take your dog out to the wild for a day or three. See how he responds. He’ll still listen to you, of course, but he’s going to be a different, happier, wilder dog than you remembered.

At PrimalCon, Barefoot Ted’s talk touched on what we can learn from watching dogs at play. Ted noted that an effective visual cue for learning how to move without shoes across a landscape (any landscape, really) is to watch how a dog moves in the wild. The signature trot, the casual ankle flicks, the strong upright muzzle, the propensity to stop and smell pretty much anything and everything – he made the point that this mode of moving fractally, in spurts and with random, haphazard pace and smooth cadence, is most natural for a terrestrial mammal like ourselves and the dog. Grace and chaos. Quality and variety of movements. The dog’ll just as soon sprint after a mysterious rustle in the bushes (lizard, maybe) as he’ll stop on a dime and piss to mark his territory. He might investigate a previous dog’s droppings, pounce on a beetle scuttling across the trail, then get spooked by an ornery bluejay and hightail it out of there. For every mile you walk, they go three, weaving across the trail from side to side, running ahead of you and then behind you, clambering up hills and then back down. And they always return to the trot, that endless, eternal trot – until they sense something else that grabs their attention, and off they go. We could learn a lot from them.

Nassim Taleb talks about this stuff in “Why I Do All This Walking, or How Systems Become Fragile,” (PDF) his essay extolling the virtues (and necessity) of randomness in our lives. Steady regimented exercise and three square meals a day aren’t necessary, and they aren’t even “normal” in evolutionary terms; they are in direct opposition to our fractal, irregular natures. Like the dog (or the cat, or the rat, or any animal out there with some semblance of a brain – I’m not talking about ants or other grubby drones), we are creatures of the wild, of nature. And though there exist underlying laws that govern the way the world works, they are cloaked in randomness. You could slap a matrix of physics equations onto the ocean’s currents and technically explain it away (on paper), but taken as a whole, the physical world remains a playground of randomized events. To the animals living and participating in its grandeur, nature simply is. It is wild and it is something new every day, and we must respond.

The ideal healthy human heart beat itself is fractal, and disrupting this tendency – as does cigarette smoking (PDF) – increases the risk of heart attack. And yet those with metronomic heart beats thrive under extreme stress and duress, as Brent Pottenger discussed in a blog post, even as they suffer from early heart disease. Normal human gait is also fractal. There appears to be a connection between gait and heart beat. Perhaps the unnatural rhythm of Chronic Cardio affecting the heart rate can explain the increased susceptibility of marathoners to congestive heart failure.

Men and women who jog along paved suburban streets at a steady heart rate could virtually do it blindfolded. This isn’t normal, though. It’s entirely novel to our organism. We were once those animals living something new every day, reacting and responding to what nature threw at us. We rarely, if ever, traversed flat, even paths. There were trees and slopes to climb and sharp rocks and pointed roots to avoid. Check out that persistence hunting video that’s made the rounds before; they’re running, walking, stalking, and moving fractally, rather than maintaining a steady pace for hours. It’s not quite as random as the dog’s movements and inclinations, but it’s similar. We may not have to avoid obstacles and watch our steps anymore, but we should walk, run, hike, jog, and climb as if we do – even if that means hopping around on the street and varying our speed and mode of travel (sprinting, then slowing, then jogging, then sprinting, then crawling, and so on) like a crazy person.

Do not run long, boring, high-intensity Chronic Cardio (but you already knew that).

Instead, incorporate fractals into your fitness.


Run sprints.

Run hills.

Walk around a lot at a slow pace, and maybe throw in the occasional sprint or Grok crawl.

Go on a hike.

Get out into nature.

Explore your local urban environment.

Vary the speed and mode of movement, but maintain the quality of your performance. Don’t get sloppy. Relax. Have fun. Play! And if you ever need any more ideas for incorporating fractals into your movements, bring a dog, remove his leash, and watch what he does.

Share your thoughts on canine coaching and fractal movement in the comment board, and thanks for reading!

TAGS:  pets

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

87 thoughts on “Dogs Teach Tricks, Too”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I love walking/running my brother’s dog and have noticed that she hates doing 3 miles at a steady pace. Airedales have a way of expressing themselves clearly 🙂

    1. I’m getting a male Airedale puppy this fall 🙂 They are the best!

    2. I have an Airedale…they are the most interesting dogs they frolic rather then run. Everytime we go on a walk a minimum of 4 people stop and ask what kind of dog she is.
      They are fun to go on hikes with

    3. I’ve noticed the aversion to steady pacing as well when taking my dog and the neighbours’ dog out for runs. When I’m jogging on the road the neighbours’ dog, which I liken to a cheetah that never has to stop for rest, moves off the road into the fields on either side and sprints on ahead or far off to the side and doubles back or does a little trotting once in a while. The only time she runs in a straight line after me is if I’m on a bike and usually then it’s because I have to bike fast to try to lose her once I reach a long hill since I only bike for transportation and have had the hassle of her following me on busy roads a few times all the way to town, which is about 10km away(she ducked past me right through the door of the dentist’s office once). My dog generally stays a bit closer and sometimes runs behind or beside me in a straight line but usually runs fractally and with an unpredictable course off the side of the road.
      I normally only jog on the road for distance and also normally don’t have much fun doing so. The more enjoyable option is to go for a fractal run in the fields and forests behind my house. On the road I run like any typical jogger but back in the forests and fields I’ve been copying the fractal style of the dogs for quite some time and normally let them lead the way and try to keep up and stop to walk if I get tired.
      This article and the persistance hunting article
      ( were good and pleasant to read. It’s encouraging to see I’ve been doing something right as opposed to my normal chronic cardio.

    4. Are you in NYC? I have an Airedale and I’d love to meet up with other Airedalees in Central Park for a fractal walk/sprint…

  2. Mark,

    This is really a great post, covering a lot of nice topics! Dogs, Nassim Taleb, fractals, … Nice


  3. This is possibly my favorite post. My family owns 2 Boston Terriers – ones that are beyond hilarious.

    I sometimes think about how much we can learn from our furry friends, and I guess how they walk is a new one to add to the list. They are random in every way and I agree that we should be as much as possible as well.

    While most of us have a job and work at the same time every day… why not wake up at different times still? If you wake up at 7 am everyday because you work at 9, why not wake up at 5 am some days and 6 am other days, etc. This will also allow one to wake up more naturally. If you are able to get up as early as 5 am, then always waking up prior to 7 am becomes easy even without an alarm clock.

    I used to eat at the same time everyday, but since being primal I have been much more random. More often then not, I eat when I am hungry. I do have a ritual of drinking my green tea first thing in the morning when I wake up, but I don’t take a shower every time anymore.

    I also don’t lift every Mon, Wed, Fri like I did when I had a gym membership. I now lift when I want to.

    I am excited to take my dog to a dog park and/or go for a short hike with him. I have been wanting to go on a hike for a while and we are finally going ot have normal weather again this weekend!

    Sorry for the long comment… lol. I told you this is possibly my favorite post!

  4. My dog is certainly happiest when running with me off leash, and I know I’m happiest when I’m out with him on the trails, dodging tree roots and such.

    Love the idea of randomness- that makes me feel better about taking today off from training just because I don’t feel like going to the gym.

    Thanks for always having such great posts!

  5. fantastic post! my wolf/dog (seriously, he wandered out of the woods) is my constant inspiration. he goes from fast asleep to a dead sprint, to back to sleep just on a what appears to be a whim. he’s my hero.

  6. We had a wonderful shepherd mutt named Buddha. The name fit his nature perfectly, especially after he matured.

    Dogs are one of my passions, and this is incredibly helpful in my understanding of primal fitness. I’m taking the dog out right now (a black Shiba Inu) to practice. Thanks!

  7. Mark – I thought that the bad part of chronic cardio was the sustained high intensity, rather than the constant intensity. What I get from your post is that it’s bad for me to excercise at at constant intensity, even if it’s a low intensity.
    I currently run 3 to 6 miles a day (in minimalist shoes) at a heart rate of around 140bpm. Is this really all that bad?

    1. I had the same thought, having just ridden my bike in my glorious Scottish countryside for 5 hours keeping my heart rate out of Chronic cardio but above a minimum, so pretty constant … some insight here would be great!

      I covered 76 miles and 4,500 feet so my pace was very ‘random’ when looked at later LOL!

      I’ve also today received the final information for the big organised ride I’m training for, 1,000 miles from one end of the UK to other over 9 days. The nutrition information makes you want to weep … I’m determined to do it Primal though and will take my own on-bike nutrition, how I fair at the fixed meals though remains to be seen!

      1. Sustained high intensity and high frequency make up Chronic Cardio.

        A 10k isn’t in and of itself CC. A 10k everyday is, especially if your heart rate is consistently high.

        Wasting hours on the treadmill daily when you could be getting better results in half the time and with more fun is CC.

        The constant intensity is simply an added wrinkle to this topic.

        Long and easy workouts qualify as Low Level Aerobic, and I’m all for it. In light of the thoughts expressed in this article, though, mix it up from time to time even if you’re doing low level work, and especially if you’re skirting the CC edge like 3-6 miles daily at a heart rate of around 140 bpm certainly is.

        Also, whether something is CC or not somewhat depends on fitness level. Use these as guides to tell if what you’re doing is CC, too:

        Last, there isn’t much difference, really, between “sustained” and “constant”.

        I hope that helps.

        1. Hi Mark, I have a brown lab named Doris that I do 8k runs with (in Sweden);)
          I am going to start go trailrunning
          and trekking as soon as I get my Fivefingers Treks! Have you tried these? they are made of kangaroo-leather and have a rougher sole.

        2. Once a week my co-workers and I jog over to a local high school (.9 miles) and play flag football or soccer (usually alternating each week), and then job/walk back. The mile jog over there is a good warm up, and the varied sprinting and changing nature of the different sports makes it fun.

  8. Great post Mark! My Border Collie is an inspiration to me. Whatever he does is with intense focus and effort and he’s never short on motivation to work or play. He’s great on runs, but my favorite times are to play tag or keep-away. He’ll even let me catch him every once in a while to keep it fair.

  9. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really apply to one of my two dogs. When I take both of my dogs on a walk, one is constantly stopping to smell, falling behind, then catching up, then falling behind, then eating some tree leaves, etc.

    The other is a focused, driven machine. She gets on the sidewalk and WALKS. There is no running, there is no stopping, there is no smelling. It is simply GO! Perhaps she is an anomaly! We’ve taken her out off leash before, but she mostly just runs a bit then comes back and follows us around wherever. Even at a dog park, she’s not interested in playing with other dogs; she just hangs around me.

    I have a tendency to let the smaller dog choose our walking pace, since she varies it very little. I also enjoy just letting her lead the way. A corner…which way do we go? She just chooses a direction and we keep traveling (so long as there is sidewalk! The little one doesn’t stray from the sidewalk unless there is a cat or rabbit!).

  10. I’m really a cat person, and I think that just about everything said about dogs applies equally as well, except that it is always easy to see a cat being a cat because they really don’t care about anything you may want them to do. (There’s a reason for the phrase lap dog as opposed to lap cat.)

    The more I look into it, everything in life really runs on a cycle of sprint and recovery. The work of Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr first really opened my eyes to this. Pretty much, spikes of stress are required to make us adapt and grow, but chronic stress along any dimension just leads to breakdown and burnout.

    Recently I was noticing how this worked with diet. I ate an entire carton of Double Stuf Oreos over about a day and a half, and it had no effect on my weight because I am very low carb most of the time. All of our systems can respond to huge peaks of stress, but not stress all the time.

    1. I am both a dog and cat person. My father has a cat and dog at home that are both wild and domesticated. When we go hiking through the woods the cat and dog both follow and explore with us as if we were hunting in a pack. Its funny, entertaining and now I see it’s a learning experience. I get a kick out of the cat (Toes) especially. She keeps up with the pack just fine and will cross the creek when we do….its amazing….she doesnt want the pack to leave her behind. Great post Mark!

  11. my rescued GSP Miles and I hike (off leash) up our mountain every day together- he both inspires and grounds me – his athleticism is amazing, to watch him hunt (no formal training) is mesmerizing and when you are with him, you totally live in the present, in the moment.

  12. Excellent post! No weekend is complete without my five fingers and my two Ridgebacks out on a trail. Hiking, sprinting, and running down deer… our experiences out in the wild have forged a bond that I do not think could be made otherwise.

    I highly suggest everyone grabs a dog and let loose!

    1. I have a Ridgeback too! He and my little mutt lead me on daily adventures (in my vff’s of course), around our off-leash open-space dog parks, down the beach, up hiking trails… They are usually happy to just trot along, but when it’s time to chase a bird, man it’s amazing to see them move! Now that’s some Primal sprinting!!!

      Lately I have been doing some sprints on our walk home from the park. My Ridgeback thinks it’s a great game. He grabs his leash in his mouth and pulls me along; if only I could run as fast as he does!

      Great post, I will continue looking to my dogs for Primal influence…

      Can we get a t-shirt with Grok and dog together? (Or better yet, Grokette and dog?)

  13. I love observing dogs…a good thing because I live with 19! (…and a foster=20). Your description of natural dog behavior is spot on (to many dogs these days are so far removed from it though).

    My dogs and I do a lot of “migrating” together (walks/hikes) and I make sure they have a chance to sprint. Being retired racing greyhounds, they’ve pretty much perfected this! When people ask me if I race them, my response is: I try, but they always beat me. 😛

  14. I give my dog a raw beef bone every morning because as you said, dogs are like wolfs playing a domesticated family pet. They weren’t meant to eat dry pet foods for all their meals.

    1. Bravo! As carnivores dogs require a primal diet, not processed kibble.

      I have to agree that for every mile I walk my dogs walk three. My two German Shepherds like to run out in front of me about 50 – 75 feet, turn and watch me, run back to me, then repeat. Nice having a sentry on duty when I do my walks.

  15. It’s a dogs natural instinct to run and play in the outdoors. They need to be very active to be “happy!” Dogs are not happy on a treadmill. You’ll have a more alert and happier dog to live with if you take them out in nature for exercise to stay mentally and physically healthy!!! 🙂

  16. As a dog lover and mommy to three mini schnauzers, this article really struck a note with me. I live in a small town that has many open fields, wooded areas, etc. and nothing makes me happier than to take my three out and just let them go! And when we do have to be on leashes, watching me criss-cross the streets with them, stop and start, run, then walk, then criss-cross again…must be quite a sight. I love it as much as they do!

  17. Long time reader, first time poster. I had to post to this one. My exercise of choice what I call a “play-run” with my dog. Basically, whatever he wants to do, damn it that what’s we’re doing. If he’s pulling, we go faster, if he’s lagging, we slow down (and don’t worry, my two prophets of the good word are Mark Sisson and Caesar Milan, so I’m still the pack leader). The dog absolutely HATES a single pace, whether that be a light jog, walk, or dead sprint, and I found that so do I. I recommend anyone add it to their regime, assuming they have a decent sized dog. Nothing like racing your dog at a dead sprint down the road to get some stares.

    Also, I think this bridges the gap some have in reconciling the avoidance of chronic cardio with the historical and physiological evidence that we as a species evolved to run long distances. As Mark points out, the persistence hunting video shows them jogging, walking, sprinting, and stalking. It’s not mile after mile at 6 minutes or less. It’s a process. I’ve seen the idea of an interval/”persistence-like” running on other primal sites to satisfy what I believe is something we were specifically evolved to do well, and I’d be interested to get Mark’s take on it.

  18. i have 3 pitbulls on our 24 acre parcel. we have lots of forest and a little creek that runs down north to south along the entire length of our property which i regularly walk my dogs along. its fun watching them hunt lizards and chase them into large piles of wood and leaves, swim and chomp at the running water. the just love going out for walks, i cant even say the W word before they are running out the front door and bouncing in circles all over eachother with excitement.

  19. I enjoyed this article, Mark. Dogs can absolutely teach us so much and I’ve been learning from mine on our excursions into the wild which involve quite a random pace from point A to point B, C, D, back to C, E…

    One thing we can also learn from is the natural, wild environment itself. Untouched land demands we take a more randomized approach when navigating it. There are sections that are best walked, and sections best run. Still others require balancing, crawling, jumping, swimming, etc.

    What I think matters most is that each one of us use our own inner direction to guide us as we traverse the land, whether it be walking, sprinting, or anything in between. That little voice inside our head usually knows best.

  20. My dogs and I are constantly walking. Some of the comments I get from people I meet out for a walk go something like “Those are the best walked dogs I know!”. Yes they are, and thank you! Even when it is -25 C (with the appropriate outerwear for man and dog) but walking in +18C, sunny weather like yesterday when we went for about an hour and a half long walk through our neighborhoods and trail system is an amazing time. Very relaxing.

    We also sprint together at the local park. Sometimes the sprinting devolves into “tag” when they catch up to me and want to cut me off rather than sprint in a straight line. Speaking of which…maybe some sprinting tonight…

  21. I’m not sure how this applies to English Bulldogs….tee hee hee. He only “runs” if there is food in front of him. He’s hilarious. He definitely has the whole “meandering” and “exploring” part down pat.

    1. LOL Mickey I hear you on the English Bulldogs! I do not need a lesson on how to nap and snore, thank you very much! She does have great enthusiasm for exploring outside, though, and will be the first to decide when it is time to take a break! She is in excellent shape for a 10 year old Bulldog, I do have to say, and we also have 2 little girls to keep her entertained! We ALL love our Nature Walks, for different reasons!

  22. Great post…I love the talk about nature and how dogs teach us how to act/run/play. Like Cesar Milan says exercise, discipline and affection can be applied to us too. If your dog is fat you aren’t getting enough exercise. If you listen to them they will tell you they need exercise!! When they see a squirrel there is their sprint!

  23. Nice post! Watching children run around is a similar phenomenon to watching dogs. (I mean that as a compliment to the children!)

    I’m not on board with all the disdain for distance running, though. But hey, to each their own.

  24. I have three very cute little doggies (2 Bichon-Poo and 1 Malty-Poo). They are the typical house pet, very low maintenance, fun, loving and real characters. This however changes as they turn into CAVE-DOG’s at the cottage. They go primal x 10! It’s hilarious to watch them frolic in the water, chase Canada Geese and ducks, get mucky and CRASH at the end of the day. Here are some photos of Rocky and Moose (before we got Poppy the Malty-Poo) at the cottage in Isle de Allumette in Quebec near the Ontario Border.

    1. UN-Believably cute!! Love the maltese/mixes…they are having sooo much fun. I want a finnish lapphund – closest thing to a husky I can get…

  25. OK stopped doing daily runs about this time last year. I hiked(with and without ski poles), swam, mountain biked,paddled my kayak, etc. In the winter I cross country skied, walked, snow shoed, swam, sprinted, and did body weight circuits. I was initially concerned about losing endurance for skiing without running, but found I actually felt better. My question is If I am traveling in hilly terrain which I do, don’t I naturally incorporate sprinting into my daily routine without doing regimented intervals.

    1. Try contacting some of the dog rescues in your area. You will probably find at least one that would allow you to exercise the dogs waiting to find new homes.

  26. While your at it, my dog and I do sprints together and then trot and then sprint, its a ton of fun, I usually loose though, one day I will get her.

  27. Before I started reading this article I was torn between doing CF or kickboxing today…instead I decided to take my 8 year boy and my dog for a hike instead! Thanks for the change of pace, I am excited to be outside with them!

  28. I lost my dog a year ago and every time I walk I miss him like crazy. There is something so satisfying about walking with a dog.

  29. Maybe this is why I always think happy active kids need a dog in their lives. Ever seen a kid anywhere from 3 yrs old to 10 yrs old in a park with their dog? Both of them are all over the map, investigating everything, short term attention span but totally immersed in their surroundings at the same time. The kids take on that same trotting jog that Mark describes, flitting from one thing to the next, climbing and tumbling and trotting back and forth until finally, like the dog, they just plop down on the ground in a totally spent but content heap.
    Pets= hours of entertainment and physical fun, companionship and in some cases protection, no batteries required.

  30. This post combines three of my favorite things: Taleb’s pontifications on anything, randomness, and dogs!

    Thanks, Mark!

  31. Yep. I learn a lot from my two dogs on that hour long, off leash walk every morning along a “river” (more like a creek). The squirrels provide for much entertainment…and a few birds and occasional feral cat.

    They don’t always give chase but when they do they are always all in.

    On the other hand, get a load of this moron, co-author of “Skinny Bitch,” feeding her dogs vegan.

    …And they claim that they are concerned about animal welfare

    1. Wow. I guess this is the thrive/survive issue… sure dogs can survive on the vegan/crap diet, but if they are to thrive they need to be fed what they evolved eating. Just like humans.

      She does have a point with the meat’s quality, which I struggle with. When I can go grass-fed/pastured I do, but a portion of what my hounds chow down on is industrially grown.

      Regarding the chase, my hounds never seem more alive than when they are running after prey.

  32. Got a hold of a gamebred it is a pure bred.
    It was taken away from someone and as I had dogs all my life I was up for the task!

    Never did a dog bring as much energy (in a good and bad way) into my life.
    She is the perfect example of a mix of a careless wild animal which enjoys life and an obedient family member.

    She just hasn’t figured out how to trot yet!
    It is either all out sprinting or complete stopping to check her surroundings… :-))))))


  33. Great post Mark. Exactly what I (and my chocolate lab Ella) needed today. Thank you!

  34. Great post, I have been watching my dog Sam (Golden Lab) for the past 10 years doing exactly what you have described above and always noted the smile he has on his face when he is walking free from the leash; smelling, jumping, weeing, pounching and it is true I join in the fun with him and we both enjoy not only the outing together but each other and life its self. Thank you.

  35. The Primal Blueprint is full of “FRACTICAL” (Fractal + Practical = FRACTICAL) hedges against the bombardment of linearizing forces in our lives in modern times. I’m thankful for that.

  36. And I thought huh! what’s he going to write about dogs….? Superb post Mark – you truly enrich our lives!

  37. as if i wasn’t already won over, but now you’ve hit me over the fence. my 6 year old pitbull’s name is Buddha and we play almost everyday. our favorite outdoor fun is the beach/rock/hills which are 5 minutes from the front door. thanks for the post and showing/sharing variety of avenues to keep the movement primal.
    ps. just went on a 6.5 hour walk/hike/climb with a friend yesterday around the north coast of our island.

  38. A black swan event hit my family two months ago in the shape of an Australian Shepherd pup.

    Fractical is a good portmanteau, Epistemocrat. This dog has reeducated me about fitness and movement, particularly when making it integral with a busy everyday life.

    My wife and I both feel lighter in all senses running and walking and playing with the dog. That ankle-flick trotting observation is so true, the default from which flows running through all gears up to full on non-linear short sprint bursts.

    Truly exhilarating is the feeling when you realize that rather than walking the dog you are in fact listening to each other in a dialogue that is ever-changing and always fresh.

    I am empirically convinced that fractal running and not weight-training is where it’s at.

  39. Dogs Grock! They also love raw turkey necks a few times a week. Mark, Thanks for opening my eyes with this great post. I am learning from my 2 big greyhounds and one little hot-dog every day. We walk and run with them every morning for 30-40 minutes. They love every minute of it and so do we. The Primal Blueprint is a great lifestyle/philosophy that is not only logical but really works. Thanks again Mark!

  40. Mark,
    While I’ve loved every post I’ve read so far, this is by far my favorite. I adore how you equate every thing to nature and animals (since we too are animals).
    Thank you so much for this site and your book.

  41. I’ve made it a point to stop running with headphones and an iPod in the last few months. I suppose half the point is to distract yourself from the monotony and discomfort of running. I’ve since realized, that running doesn’t have to be boring and painful – we just have to change how and where we run.

  42. Excellent post! It brings together my two favorite topics: dogs and fitness 🙂

    1. Whoops, hit the Submit button by accident…

      I originally stumbled upon Paleo/Primal/Evolutionary Nutrition because I was researching species-appropriate diets for dogs. After reading about that, I wondered why I was thinking of feeding my dogs better and more appropriately than myself! One thing led to another, and within a week of finding MDA and some other big Paleo/Primal sites, I made the switch. I fully support feeding all creatures what they evolved eating, not just what they will tolerate and survive on.

      Mark, maybe you could devote a post to biologically-appropriate diets for pets sometime? I’m sure a number of people here (judging from the comments) could point you to some really excellent resources!

      1. I just got a Corgi puppy last month. I already decided I wanted him to eat primal with me. So I looked around the net & is a good place to start. There’s also a raw fed group on Yahoo that is full of information. I haven’t been able to acquire all the stuff to get him 100% raw yet, but I have found a good source for bones & organs from organically raised animals. The little guy went CRAZY for goat liver! A good pet supply store (not the big box type) will also carry grain-free options. If you “rummage” around on the forums, you’ll find some posts from other primal pet parents. Anyhoo, I’m feeding my guy 100% grain free with fish oil supplements. I also shy away from fruits & veg as canines are carnivores.

  43. Basically a Dog’s diet should contain:

    raw meat (preferrably wild game)

    vegetables and plants (fermented is best as it mimics the foods state when it’s in the stomach of the dogs prey,which is where it gets its veggies and fruits…)

    wild berries or forrest fruits…

    fisch oil (there oppinions seperate, because dogs didn’t eat fish when they were in the forrest, but the omega3 ration is off in some meats of today so…)

    calcium i.e. raw bones are best

    liver from time to time for vitamin D

    that should do the trick…best is to rotate the meats and also feed snacks like air channels from animals or ears, legs, etc…

  44. I love this post, it sounded like you were describing our dog. She is a mix, part Australian shepherd, and when we take her camping she becomes a hunter… refuses to touch her dog food, because she’s determined to catch something better. We take her hiking every weekend, and yes she covers at least 3-times the distance even though she stops and smells more ‘roses’.

    Having such an active dog is definitely good for our health. Chasing her and playing around is way more fun than the 5-10 km runs I used to do a few years ago.

  45. My two rescue dogs and I take a walk every day when it’s not raining. Our newest pooch can’t be trusted off leash yet. However I love watching her play in the yard. When she runs, she varies her running with bounding. It looks as if she is literally leaping with joy.

    They also enjoy a rousing game of chase. They will chase each other around obstacles in the yard going at top speed, ears flapping behind until exhausted.

    The youngest also likes to “tackle” the other dog when he is trying to “conduct business.”. Hilarious!! The joy they bring me has to be good for the old ticket.

  46. I have a 7 year old Bernese Mountain Dog. We’ve always had opportunities to trek through the bush in all seasons. He loves to run but now am noticing he’s a little slower pace during our run, and we don’t go as far. But he hasn’t lost the ability to dart off trail after a squirrel. This amazes me, just when I think his age is catching up with him (life span 7-10) he goes and gets all puppylike.

  47. My two shelter-rescued coonhounds are very much interested in sprinting, then sniffing, then sprinting again. On the hills in Tennessee, this is often quite a workout in itself… (especially since I just started Primal living, and I’m still working my way back down to a healthy weight).

  48. I used to be a 100% ONLY English Mastiff owner…then, my husband wanted to adopt a large american Pitbull.
    So off to the local shelter we went to rescue some lucky dog.
    Am I glad I gave in! This dog is THE best breed ever. Only thing that drives me nuts is he wants to say ‘hi’ to everyone and everyone’s dog…so darn happy, so darn friendly, ALL the time!

    Whatever happened to Pitbulls kill?! LOL

    His tail even wags during sleep…what a weirdo.

  49. I love distance running. Long runs are great. You don’t know what you are talking about.

  50. My dog is a magnificent specimen to behold. He’s lean, has great bone structure, and is incredibly well muscled. And it’s because he does primal fitness: 2 or 3 20-minute sprint sessions after a ball/week, and 45- to 60- minute walks on the other days. Yeah, I could learn a lot from him… but it’s so much easier to throw the ball than it is to sprint after it…

  51. A dog charged me recently. I was going to retrieve a briefly stashed bike from the fence lining the driveway of a house when she came out and questioned me about my position on her probably rented property. Her dog ran at me, making vicious noises, and when it was close enough to lunge and bite me I crouched down a bit with my left foot back and made fists, my right arm basically parallel to my trunk under chest level, and my left arm bent like an L, ready for punching the dog’s snout. I visualized a three punch combination. It was just inches from my right arm, which I shook slightly at it, and it whimpered and ran back into the house.
    That’s the third time I’ve been charged by a potentially dangerous dog that turned and ran back.
    I think most dogs are easy to out-bluff.
    The first time I ran away a few steps, spun in a left pivot, and threw a ~ one quarter / one third full water bottle at it, hitting an angsty dog by the spine.
    The second time I had a broken ankle and was on crutches so I warded it off by crouching and waving them in front of its face, blocking its path to me and a friend behind me.

  52. You are to-ta-lly right, Mark! Humans can be very silly with this jogging along and doing all other kinds of odd, unnatural stuff. They can learn a lot from us, dogs!