Your dog may be the ultimate exercise partner. Think about it: dogs are always eager to spend more time with you, they have plenty of excess energy to burn, and temptation to skip a scheduled sweat session melts away when your furry friend stands at the front door, leash in mouth, ready to log a few miles with you.
Before you hit the pavement, though, you’ll need to train your pooch to run with you. Here’s how to make your run enjoyable and rewarding for both you and your best (furry) friend.
Before you hit the road, consider your dog’s health, build, and breed. Older pups may have joint problems that can slow them down or make running uncomfortable. Dogs with short legs may not be able to keep up with the pace you’d like to maintain, while larger breeds are prone to hip dyspepsia, an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can lead to arthritis, says Arumburu. Then, if your furry friend is a chihuahua, bulldog, pug, or other snort-nosed, flat-faced breed (also known as encephalitic), running may simply require too much exertion. Their squished faces are cute, but they tend to have narrowed nostrils and partially obstructed airways, which make breathing difficult when they work too hard.
Check in with your vet
If you aren’t sure whether your dog’s fit to run, check with your veterinarian. “A vet can let you know if there are any red flags, and can provide advice about what’s safe and healthy for your individual dog in your individual surroundings,” says Aramburu. Even if you’re certain your pup will be fine, give your vet a heads up. The doc may recommend dietary adjustments to go along with the uptick in exercise, for example.
Before you pick up your pace for any workout, be sure you’ve given yourself—and your dog—at least a few minutes of walking or slow jogging. ” Warming up those muscles is a great idea for both you and your dog, and can protect you both against injuries” says Warrant. Another warm-up ritual to make a habit: giving your fur-ball a chance to sniff around and do his business. That means fewer stops for pee and poop breaks once you get moving.
Teach basic commands
A dog that misbehaves on walks probably isn’t ready to run, says Wirant. “You want to teach them to walk nicely on leash, and break the behaviour of stopping to sniff or marking every tree, or racing ahead and pulling you.”
It’s also important to teach a “Leave It” command, so that your dog will ignore or walk away from tempting items (like trash, roadkill, or sticks) they might come across on a path. Teaching them to “Sit” and “Stay” is also helpful, especially at traffic crossings. If you have trouble training your dog any of these commands, consider an obedience class or dog trainer.
Why run with your dog?
There’s a whole host of research that tells us how great running can be for your health. It prevents helps obesity, helps you to get fit, and it can increase your stamina. It’s even been shown to lift your mood. And it doesn’t require an expensive gym membership either.
What’s good for you is also great for you dog: it’ll also help them to lose weight if their body condition isn’t ideal, build muscle, and keep healthy. Keeping your dog fit and healthy is the best way to avoid expensive vet bills in the future. It’s also fantastic for your dog’s mood: most dogs are built to run (albeit some breeds more than others). They all enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors, and time spent pounding the pavement with you will always be time well spent in your pet’s mind.
If you’ve noticed destructive behaviours creeping in, jogging with your dog might be a solution. Active breeds that are kept indoors for long periods of time can become bored, which may result in a bad behaviour. Keeping their mind and body active will help to get rid of that pent-up energy, and it’ll also build a great bond between the pair of you.
How to run with a lead ?
Keeping your dog on a lead during your runs is the best way to start your training as it will keep them safe and close. In the beginning it might be that your dog either pulls ahead or lags behind, which will be annoying for your pace. Given time and practice, though, both you and your pet will acclimatise to one another’s running patterns.
Before running with a dog make sure they can walk on a lead to heel. It’s best to avoid to retractable leads as too much distance can lead to complications. Starting with a lead of about three to six feet will give you enough space, but not so much that your dog feels able to wander.
How age and breed affects the run ?
Certain dogs are naturally built for different conditions, and their ability to run doesn’t necessarily correlate to their size. You might be surprised to find that the relatively small Parson Russell terrier is a steady runner who can go for miles, whereas the leggy greyhound will prefer a short, sharp sprint to a long run any day. If you’re looking for a new dog and you would like them to be your running partner, be sure you do your research and choose a breed that enjoys the same kind of exercise as you.
Be careful about running with young dogs: puppies might not be ready to go running until they’re fully grown. Older dogs, similarly, require some consideration: whilst they will still enjoy the exercise, they may tire more quickly than a younger dog.
Top tips for running with a dog?
- Stay alert: your dog can’t tell you when they’re tired or unwell. Take notice of any unspoken signs while your running with them.
- Drink lots: it’s important for both you and your dog to stay hydrated while exercising, so always carry water on long runs. Dogs will suffer more quickly from dehydration than exhaustion when exercising.
- Take care: clean your pet’s paws after a run, and check for any cuts or scrapes. Unattended injuries can lead to infections.
- Choose carefully: pick routes and environments that you will both enjoy. Running over grass will be better for both you and your dog’s joints, but beware of unseen hazards like rabbit holes.
- Keep clean: even if you are going at a pace, you still need to pick up after your pet!
- Have fun! Running with your dog can be some of the best, most enjoyable, and most meaningful exercise you do.