Running with your dog can be a fun time for both you and your dog. Having a running buddy can be a bonding experience and break the monotony of a daily run. There are a few things to consider before lacing up your running shoes, grabbing the leash and collar, and heading out the door with your pup.
Know Your Dogs Limitations
Not all dogs are meant for running. For example, brachycephalic dogs (those with short muzzles) are prone to overheating and may be better off running very short distances or walking while Greyhounds and Huskies are born to run. Most working dogs are also suited for running.
Running is not safe for puppies because their bones are still growing. For most breeds, the general rule of thumb is to wait until they are at least one and a half years old. It's recommended we consult a doctor before we start an exercise program, so it's always a good idea to consult your vet before your pup starts one too!
When I started running with my dog Winnie, we started slow and gradually worked our way up to more mileage, but I quickly noticed something. She would run by my side for the first two miles; however, things changed quite drastically by the third mile. She would lose her spunk and be running behind me looking quite worn out, so I figured out two to three miles was about her limit. I think it's important to read your dog's body language to determine how far they are willing and able to go. As much as I would love to have her run with me during longer runs, I have to accept the fact that she probably wants to just go home and sprawl out on the cold hardwood floor and take a long nap!
Start Out Slow
Just like us, dogs need to acclimate to mileage. When I first started running, I certainly didn't attempt ten milers, and neither should your pup. It should be a very gradual process. Your dog needs to slowly build mileage just like you did when you started running. When starting out, try running for a few minutes and then walking for a few minutes. Slowly increase the running while decreasing the walking on each outing. After several weeks your dog will have adapted to the longer distances.
Be Aware Of The Heat
Summer is a great time to run; however, please be aware of the heat. Dedicated runners often run in a variety of weather, including high temps; however, our pups can easily overheat, and often the pavement is too hot for their paws. Please be aware of this and keep your dog indoors during hot weather.
Take Water Breaks
I don't like being without water while I run, and I can't imagine Winnie does either. Luckily our running route passes through a few parks which have drinking fountains that are geared for dogs, so I always stop at them to let her drink. It's a good idea to carry a bottle that has a special spout for dogs or carry a collapsible bowl so you can fill it with water.
Working out with your dog is a fun way for both of you to stay happy and healthy. It should be a fun experience for both you and your dog. If you notice your dog wagging its tail and getting excited for a run, that's a great sign! Keep it up! However, if you notice your pup shying away from the leash or hesitant to run, maybe its time to leave him or her alone for a few runs and just take a walk instead. Just don't forget the poop bag!
Good job, Winnie!!!