Tips for Running With Your Dog

With the arrival of spring, you may be thinking about spending more time outdoors with your four-legged friend. If you’re a running enthusiast (or have been thinking about giving it a try), why not bring your pup along?

Running with your pooch may be one of the best ways to improve his muscle tone and cardiovascular health, maintain a healthy weight, and provide mental stimulation. Best of all, it can help strengthen the bond between you.

But before you lace up your running shoes and snap on a leash, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Visit Your Vet

Make sure you get the go-ahead from your vet before beginning your running regime. They’ll be able to tell you whether your dog has any physical condition that would limit them or keep them from running. For example, certain dogs may have joint or breathing issues which would make running painful or dangerous. Also, puppies younger than 18 months shouldn’t run at all, since it may damage growing joints and bones.

Brush Up on the Basics

Running will be more enjoyable and safe for both of you if your dog understands and listens to basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “wait.” Also work on training your dog to stay on one side of you, instead of crossing back and forth. Always use a four- or six-foot leash so that you can maintain control at all times.

Start Slow

Human beings can’t go from being couch potatoes to marathon runners in a day. The same goes for our dogs. Pushing them too hard too soon could result in injury. Start with a five- or ten-minute run and then gradually increase time and distance over a period of weeks or months.

Take Plenty of Breaks

Even if it seems your dog could go all day, make it a point to take plenty of breaks throughout your run. Give them time to cool off, drink some water and rest in the shade. If it’s exceptionally hot or humid, consider skipping your run and opting for a game of fetch in the back yard instead.

Observe Your Dog

One of the great things about dogs is that they will pretty much go along with whatever we ask them to. It is up to us to interpret their body language and stop or turn back if they seem stressed, unhappy or overheated. Signs of physical stress can include excessive panting, limping, whining, vomiting and diarrhea. Apart from physical discomfort, some dogs just don’t enjoy running. If this seems to be the case with yours, look for another fun activity you can do together!