6 Helpful Tips for Running With Your Dog
Have you been looking for the perfect running partner?
Do you find that most people you try to run with either can barely keep up or mindlessly run far ahead of you?
Maybe you should consider a dog for a running companion!
Many breeds of dogs are naturally energetic and need exercise beyond a walk. Working dogs such as Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers make great running partners.
Not only will these breeds have the energy and stamina to keep up with you, they are also easy to train to run by your side. In this article, we will discuss various tips for running with your dog.
1. Make sure your dog is healthy enough for running
Before taking your dog running, you should get them checked out by a vet to ensure they are healthy enough for strenuous activity.
Your dog’s weight and age are important factors, but a vet will be able to check for joint stiffness and other factors such as bloodborne illnesses that might hinder your dog’s activity levels.
Along with ensuring that your dog is healthy enough to run, you need to make sure they are up to date on their vaccines and rabies shots.
This is not only for your dog’s safety, but also the safety of other animals and humans you might encounter.
2. Research what your dog's breed is capable of
While most medium to large breeds make great running companions, you need to be aware of the specific attributes unique to your dog's breed.
Some breeds have powerful strides that can easily pull you around and must be strictly trained. Other breeds are built for endurance and will easily be able to keep pace and possibly outlast you.
For a breed such as a Siberian Husky, you need to understand that they have coats designed for low temperatures. This means that they can easily overheat during a long run or even a short run on a hot day.
If you’ve ever met a Husky or been dog-sledding, then you know they have seemingly endless amounts of energy, so it’s up to you to keep them in check.
3. Start slow and gradually build up endurance
Just like a new workout routine for a human, you need to start with shorter runs and build up from there.
Take your dog for runs of less than a mile to see how they manage and gradually increase the distance and speed over time. If you notice them slowing down, just turn your run into a walk.
If you have a new dog, you should test their walking endurance first to get a baseline of their fitness.
You might notice your dog not getting tired after a walk; this gives you a good indication that running will be an ideal way to expend your dog’s energy.
4. Proper running style
Whether you are using a normal harness and leash or a running leash, having your dog under control at all times is crucial.
Just like taking your dog for a walk, you need to be the one in control and making the decision of where to go on your outing.
Before going for a run with your dog, you need to make sure they understand basic commands such as sit, stay, come, leave it, and drop it.
These commands not only protect other animals or humans, but your dog as well. Ensuring that they follow your commands is critical to avoiding any fights or mishaps during your time outside.
Moving at a faster pace might encourage your dog to dart at other animals or people. You should train your dog to run by your side since this is the best place to keep them out of danger.
Whether your dog or another dog is the aggressor, keeping them by your side will allow you to intervene easier in case of a fight. Never run with your dog off-leash unless you are in a fenced area that is safe.
5. Keep your eye on the paws
Luckily for humans, we have cushy pieces of rubber to run on that insulate us from hard surfaces. Your dog’s paws can get bruised, cut, or otherwise damaged by the surfaces you’re running on.
Depending on where you’re running, your dog might get cuts from glass or other sharp objects on the ground.
Try to avoid construction areas or alley ways as these are places where such objects are more likely to exist.
Be sure to examine your dog’s paws and notice if they have any changes in their running stride.
Dogs won’t necessarily stop and tell you they have something in their foot, but they will likely start limping or slowing down.
6. Maintain proper nutrition
A healthy dog makes the best running companion. If your dog is undernourished or overweight, they will have a harder time keeping up with you.
Overweight dogs are also more prone to injury. If your dog needs to lose weight, start by cutting back the amount of food they eat,along with taking them on regular walks.
Make sure you get clearance from your vet before taking a dog that used to be overweight running. They might have developed other medical conditions due to their weight that could make running a bad idea.
Training your dog to be your running companion is similar to how a human should train.
If your dog has been sedentary their whole life, you can’t expect them to jump off the couch and run a 5k with you.
The key to enjoying your new running companion and preventing them from getting injured is to build up their stamina gradually.
Since your dog can’t tell you when they’re tired or hurt, you have to always keep an eye on their behavior.
Follow these simple tips and you’re guaranteed to have a great time running with your dog.
Author Bio: Kevin O’Donnell is a dog enthusiast and dog rescue volunteer. As the webmaster at TheBarkBuzz.com he helps spread valuable information and advice about dog training, nutrition and health. He loves playing with his best friend, Buddy (a Japanese Chin/Papillon mix).