Sit. Stay. Keep up? If you’re interested in running with your canine companion it’s not as simple as putting on their leash and charging out the door. To keep you and your pup safe and healthy, make sure you’re both prepared for the road ahead.
Training Your Dog to Run
It might seem like dogs have endless energy, and anyone who’s ever tried to retrieve a piece of floor-food from their dog’s mouth knows that they are fast! But that doesn’t mean that your dog is ready to conquer a 10k on day-one. Dogs need to start slow and work their way up to a full distance run—just like people! Before you start any running plan, check with your vet about your dog’s health and ability to run long distances. It’s not advised to run with pups under a year old. Young dogs’ bones are still developing and they are higher risk of joint damage and injury with sustained physical exertion.
Get in Gear
Just like you have your running kit, your dog will need special items to help them stay happy and healthy when running with you. If you use a retractable leash, you want to consider a fixed-length leash between 4 to 6 feet long. Any longer and you can find yourself in a tangle or a tumble. Before beginning a running regimen, make sure your dog has good leash etiquette and doesn’t pull or weave while on a walk. There are great training videos about how to teach these leash skills. You’ll also need a doggie water bottle or a portable bowl. Be sure to pack enough water for both you and your dog—they get thirsty too!
Once you’ve got the go-ahead from your vet and the gear you need to get started, design a training plan for your dog. Keep in mind their current fitness level and age. Just like a training program for humans, all doggie running sessions should start with a warm up and end with a cool down period. The warm up is a good time for your dog to do any doggie business, which will hopefully keep prevent any abrupt pit stops along your route. It goes without saying, please clean up after your dog when on a run and make sure some poo bags are part of your running kit.
For the Long Run
Make running a sustainable practice for you and your pooch by being mindful of the extra sensitivities your dog has. Remember, they don’t have the benefit of a cushioned shoe. Running on roads and sidewalks will be more intense for their little feet and their joint health. When possible, strategize your runs to include trails, parks, and other areas that will be soft underfoot. Running in hot weather is especially difficult for dogs because they don’t have the same body temperature regulation system as humans. If your dog is panting so hard they cannot catch their breath then it’s time to take a break. If your dog is trailing behind or refuses to keep running, sit down with them until they are rested enough to walk back to your house or car. Ultimately running with your dog should be a fun bonding activity for both of you, not a struggle to reach the finish line.
Are you and your dog running buddies? Are there any tips or tricks you’d like to share about how you make the most of your canine adventures? Share in the comments below!