Date Published: October 14, 2017, Updated: February 23, 2019 at 3:45 pm, Author: Alice
Most people, when they get a dog, imagine doing certain activities with them, such as playing fetch, hiking nature trails and yes, running. While certain dogs can be trained to do each of these things, it is not suggested that you just throw your dog into running. Dogs, like humans, need to be conditioned to run, otherwise they could strain a muscle or sustain some other serious injury. If you want your furry friend to be your new exercise buddy, there are some things that you need to do – and others that you shouldn’t – in order to ensure that both you and your pooch enjoy your workouts.
If you haven’t already, you will need to leash train your pet first and foremost. Depending on your dog’s age, leash training can be relatively simple or it can be complicated. If you dog is just a puppy, begin leash training the day you take her home. Start by letter her get to know her leash; attach it to her collar and let her play with it, run around with it on and get used to it. The same goes for an older dog that hasn’t been leashed trained yet—let her get to know the leash and become comfortable with it.
Once your dog becomes accustomed to her leash, take her for a walk. Keep the leash short at first, short enough where she is by your side the whole time and cannot get ahead of you. If you allow your pooch to get ahead of you, she’ll get into the habit of pulling, which is a hard habit to break. As she gets used to walking with you, give her a little more leash at a time, until the leash is fully extended.
Congratulations! You have successfully leash trained your pooch. Now it’s on to the next steps.
Before hitting the pavement with your dog, it’s essential that you get a clean bill of health from the veterinarian. The last thing you want to do is overexert your pup or to exacerbate an existing injury or condition. For instance, your pet may have joint problems that you’re unaware of that could worsen with high impact exercise such as running. If your dog is overweight, they could have an underlying heart condition that might be triggered with exercise. If your dog is older, she may not be able to run as long as a younger puppy, or she may require special conditions to run in, such as cooler weather. You cannot know any of this, though, unless you schedule a full examination with the veterinarian.
Even if your pooch is in great condition, if they have never run before, don’t expect them to be able to run a 5K on their first outing. In fact, don’t even attempt it. Start off slow, and take your dog on a 10 to 15 minute jaunt through the neighborhood. Keep it low impact and fairly easy, meaning run on flat surfaces and don’t sprint.
The best way to train your dog—and you—to be a runner is to find a beginner 5K plan that allows your pooch to progress at a safe and healthy pace. These plans usually include intervals of running and walking, giving your pet plenty of time to catch her breath after jogging for a few minutes. These plans generally work up to being able to run five miles non-stop, but it will take time to reach that point. Don’t rush it, as your pooch will get there when she’s ready.
Also, don’t forget to bring water for your dog on your runs, and make sure to stop every 10 minutes or so to see if she needs to quench her thirst.
Though dogs can run just about anywhere, map out a route that is the least likely to cause injury to your pooch. For instance, running on hard surfaces such as pavement and concrete can be bad for your dog’s joints, and hot pavement can burn the pads of her paws. If possible, stick to running on grass and dirt, but be wary of rabbit holes and other obstacles that your pooch may trip over.
When planning on how far you want to run, take your pet’s breed into consideration. Some dog breeds can run for miles without stopping while others aren’t designed for long distance runs. Breeds that were originally bred for herding and sports are generally better long-distance runners, but don’t discount all small dogs. For instance, the Chihuahua and Terrier make great running partners as they don’t have a lot of weight to carry around. Bulldogs, on the other hand, run as well as one might think they would—not very.
Though your dog should always be on a healthy diet, if she’s not, now is the time to put her on one. Find a dog food that is all natural, high in protein and vitamins and that has little to no fillers. Feed her the amount recommended by your veterinarian and not the amount recommended on the dog food bag, as that amount doesn’t take into consideration your dog’s breed, size or age. Additionally, when you give your pooch treats, make sure that they’re healthy, such as all natural bully sticks or 100% real chicken treats. Healthy treats such as these are not only good for your dog’s health, but also, they’re great for her oral and mental health. For the best all-natural, made in America dog treats, visit the Bully Stick Shoppe and browse their collection.
Many people want to start running with their puppies right away, just to get them used to it, but starting them young could be a huge mistake. Puppies continue to grow and develop until about two years of age, and if you try to make them run before that, you could negatively impact their bone growth and formation. Play it safe and don’t start running with your dog until she is two years old or, better yet, talk to your vet about when might be a safe time to start.
Just because your dog’s breed was meant for herding cattle, or just because she is well built and in great physical condition, does not mean that she is a runner. Dogs are like humans, and outward appearances can be deceiving. Your dog may not enjoy strenuous activities, or she may have an underlying condition that makes running difficult for her. You won’t know if your dog is a runner or not unless you try, but if you discover that she isn’t, don’t push the issue and look for a new running partner.
This is an important don’t for both you and your pooch. Warm up before every run by stretching and walking slowly along your running path. Gradually go from running to jogging and then, when you’re both ready, start running. This will ensure that your blood is thoroughly warmed and your heart is pumping mildly before you throw it into full-on exercise mode.
Also, a nice and slow warm up may give your pooch the time she needs to go to the bathroom before you start running.
If the temperatures soar above the 80’s, opt to run on your own. Running in too hot of conditions is not good for any dog and it can cause heat stroke, burnt paws or sunburn. If you think it’s too hot out for your dog, chances are that it is.
If you feel like swimming in a pool instead, check our safety tips for swimming with your dog.
Your dog will let you know you when they’re feeling tired in their own way, so pay attention. If your dog starts drooling, has a hard time catching his breath or refuses to continue after stopping for a few minutes, she has had enough. If your dog starts vomiting, has diarrhea, is weak or lethargic or has dark red gums, you may have overexerted her. Get her to the veterinarian right away to make sure that she doesn’t have heat stroke or some other serious condition.
Once your done exercising, dump some water on your dog’s head to cool her down and give her a bowl of water. However, regulate how much she drinks, as it is possible for dogs to drink too much water at any given time. If she gulps too much during or after your exercise, she could suffer from water toxicity, which is fatal, or bloat, which occurs when too much air enters the lungs.
Teaching your pooch to run with you can be very rewarding, but you want to make sure that you properly train her before you hit the pavement. With the right training, enough time and commitment, you and your pooch will be the best of running pals before you know it!