Running with your dog is a fantastic way to gain companionship, motivation and a pace maker on your run! A dog adjusts to whatever pace you run at, will happily wag her tail and gaze at you adoringly and give you’re the drive to run that little bit farther or harder in order to now you have given her a good workout as well as yourself.
It’s important to prepare your dog properly for running, whether it be for a jog around the park or a half marathon. Fail to prepare and…well, you know the rest, but this cliché is a good one. If you don’t get your dog ready for running, you could end up injuring her, or even yourself.
- Never run with a puppy or adolescent dog, as their bones have not yet had time to fully form. 9 months to 1 year old for small breeds and around 2 years for large breed dogs are a great time to start with a jog around the block before building up a long distance running routine with your pup
- Take your dog for long walks to help build her endurance, especially if your dog is a bit pudgy or out of shape. Monitor your dog’s breathing, gait and general fitness level to make sure she isn’t in pain and is comfortable.
- Begin your running routine with short 15-20 minute runs, three days per week. Take 5 minutes to warm up you and your dog before each run and remember to consider the weather; if it’s a hot, sunny day, wait until the evening when it has cooled down to run with your dog. Speak to your vet about setting a temperature limit on your runs with your dog. Dogs are so loyal that they will keep on running, even if in discomfort, which could end in disaster. Always put your dog’s health before your running goals.
- Safely build up your dog’s running endurance by increasing run times by 5 minutes each week. This also gives her the opportunity to toughen up the pads on her feet.
- ALWAYS keep your dog on a lead when you run. You can buy belt leads that attach at the waist and reduce tripping hazards. Dogs naturally tend to wander and sniff things out and you definitely don’t want to be stop starting all the way during your run. Keep her attached and give her a gentle tug on the lead if she gets distracted.
- Stick to running trails where you can as these are softer than concrete roads and will be easier on your dog’s joints when running.
- Give your dog plenty of water, before, during and after your run. You may be able to teach your dog to drink from your hand or a water bottle as you run, but this can quickly get messy and wastes water. Stop, let her drink from a collapsible bowl or your hand, then start up again.
- Watch your dog closely during your run. If she shows any signs of fatigue, pain or over heating through excessive panting or refusing to continue, stop running immediately. Wet your dog’s coat with water to cool her down and let her rest in some shade before getting her inside as quickly as possible to avoid heat stroke, which can be fatal for dogs.
- Have a cool down session at the end of your run by walking for five or ten minutes. Offer your dog water and check the pads of her feet for injury. If the pads are sore or broken, adjust your running schedule as you have pushed your dog a bit too far. Don’t run with your dog again until her pads have healed.
- Lavish praise and rewards on your dog for good behaviour when out running. Carry treats and reward when commands are obeyed or distractions are ignored. Make running fun for both you AND your dog.