If you are a runner, you may have thought about bringing your dog along. Running is great exercise and having a running companion is an excellent motivator to stay in shape.
There are a lot of conditions at play when running with your dog: running surfaces, weather conditions, the overall health of your dog, among others.
It might seem that all dogs are born for running, but there’s a difference between running around the backyard playing frisbee and going on a structured, endurance run.
While you may think it’s as simple as attaching their leash, there are a few things to consider before heading out on your first jog together.
Tips for running with your dog
Not all breeds are created equal.
Much like humans, not all canines enjoy the same activities. In fact, there are some breeds that are better suited for more rigorous activities than others.
For example, breeds like Bulldogs or Pugs are brachycephalic dogs. Because these breeds have shorter muzzles, they are prone to difficult, obstructive breathing, which can be further aggravated by exerting themselves. Plus, it’s simply not as enjoyable for them as other breeds.
Other breeds like Greyhounds, Retrievers, Cattle Dogs, and Spaniels are leaner with longer legs which makes them a better running companion than shorter, stouter breeds. These breeds have more energy and a higher endurance level which makes them more suited for physical activity.
Obedience is key.
Before you begin running with your dog, the ability to follow basic commands and cues from you is a must. Dogs that are not leash trained at the basic level aren’t ready for jogs. It’s important that they can remain beside you, on a leash, and stay focused on the path ahead.
Mastering “loose-leash” walking is the first step to training your dog to stay beside you. Remember, there are plenty of distractions like squirrels, other animals, and smells. Training them to walk and run beside you is key to a safe running experience for both of you.
Teaching your dog to “heel” as you run or walk is an important next step in training a dog as a running companion. Keeping your dog to one side of you will prevent them from weaving from side to side or in front of you.
Overall health is important.
Building endurance is a key factor in creating a pleasant running experience for both of you. Just like humans don’t start exercising with a 5K run, dogs who aren’t used to regular walks or exercise shouldn’t be running companions at first.
Slow begin building endurance by adding small stretches of running into your daily walks. Then, gradually increase the intensity of the walk with more frequent running intervals.
After a few weeks of this practice, your dog will be able to endure running longer distances.
Read their signals, too.
Dogs need breaks, too! Give your dog plenty of breaks for water and rest along your runs. Bring a water bottle for your dog and offer a break often as your dog needs.
Also, don’t forget to observe their behaviors during the run. Are they enjoying it, too? Are they excited to see the leash? These cues will provide insight into how much they enjoy these activities with you.
If you sense they may not enjoy the run as much as you do, keep to brisk walks and save your runs for you.
If at any time during a run you notice that your dog is showing signs of exhaustion, like rapid panting, excessive drooling, or refusing to run, take an extended break immediately. It’s likely your dog may have overdone it and needs to rest.
Now, you’re ready to train your new running companion! Considering these tips will help make exercise a fun and exciting experience for both you and your dog.
If you have questions about running with your canine buddy, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.