Updated: Oct 21, 2018
Running with your furry friend can be one of the most rewarding experiences and is a great bonding experience for the two (or three or four) of you to share! If running with your dog is a new activity, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve dotted your I’s and crossed your T’s before just jumping on the trail and logging those miles.
Check With Your Vet
To start, go ahead and make sure you get the green light from your vet. Not all breeds are meant to run, like brachycephalic dogs, or squishy faced pups such as Pugs and Bulldogs. Keep in mind, the ones who are made for running may still have issues you need to be aware of such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, degenerative discs, luxated patella, and more. Age also plays an important role, some are just too old for running and a longer brisk walk may be more up their alley. On the flip side, there is such a thing as being too young for running. Check with your vet, but most dog’s growth plates have not fully closed until about 1 ½ - 2 years of age. If you run with your puppy before then you run the risk of injury.
Once you’ve received the go ahead from your vet gear will be next item on your check list. Just like we humans try to keep our running gear down to a minimum, you’ll want to do the same for your furry friend. A standard collar or chest harness works best for running, and although retractable leashes are very popular they are a definite NO when it comes to running. A standard 5’-6’ canvas leash works best to give you maximum control and keep your dog, yourself and others safe. When venturing out on longer runs be sure to bring water and perhaps a collapsible bowl if your pup will not drink from a fountain or water bottle. If visibility is low, you’ll want to have a reflection feature on both you and your canine. Lastly, if the ground is too hot, cold our tough for their feet booties are a great option until their pads have acclimated and toughened up.
Training Is A Must
There’s one more to-do you’ll want to check off your list before stepping out for your pooch’s maiden voyage (run); socialization and leash training. Ensuring that your pup has been socialized properly and listens to commands when on leash is key. Chances are there will be other humans and animals alike out and about while you’re running so for everyone’s safety it’s imperative that your dog have the proper etiquette while out for your runs. Focusing on commands like wait, sit, slow, and heel are great places to start. Never run with your dog off leash in a public or crowded space. No matter how well behaved they are there are too many factors and ways for this situation to go wrong very quickly.
Ready Set Go .. But Wait
Now you’re ready to start your running program! Just like when you started running you had to condition your body and ease it in to longer distances and faster paces. Animals are no different than humans in this sense. You’ll want to condition your pup weekly until you find a pace and distance that works for you both. It’s recommended that you start with a 10-minute run and increase by 10 minutes each week until you’ve hit your desired distance and pace. Be careful not to over-condition too quickly, take a day off in between outings until you feel your canine is able to run multiple days in a row. Taking your time with the conditioning process will help to avoid injuries and give your furry friend time to adjust mentally to the new routine allowing both you and them to enjoy it that much more.
A Few More Tips
A few other tips for running and biking with your pup. Be sure not to feed them immediately before a run to avoid upsetting their stomachs. You’ll want to be conscious of the time of day and temperature, hydrate your dog before, during, and after runs and if you’re going out for an extended distance run you’ll want to bring water with you. Do NOT let your dog drink from random puddles as there are loads of toxins they can pick up this way. When possible allow your dog to run on softer surfaces and try to vary the surfaces you run on to condition their pads. You’ll also want to clean and inspect their paws and pads after a run to ensure no lingering material has made its way into the paw like glass, thorns, rocks, or other sharp and uncomfortable objects. Lastly, although your dog has increased its exercise routine unless you see them loosing weight there is no need to up their food intake.
Happy running to you and your furry friend. Just remember to be smart. If your dog is like mine he loves to chase cats which means that he may end up crossing in front of me while I run. This means I needed to take him on a few training before doing longer runs. Take the time to train them so that it is good for both you and (wo)mans best friend.
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