Running with your Dog
Whether you are hoping to get fitter or you are already a keen runner and looking for an exercise partner, there are many advantages to running with your dog.
Dogs make excellent running partners; they are always eager to please, enjoy the outdoors, have plenty of energy to burn and will still want to go out when it is raining outside! But before taking your dog on a run with you, there are a number of things you will need to consider to ensure it is enjoyable for the both of you!
1. Consider your dog’s health, build and breed
Not all dogs are built for running; if your dog has short legs he may not be able to keep up with you, or if your four-legged friend is a short-nosed/flat-faced breed then running may require too much exertion. Equally, if you your dog is still very young, or slightly older, running may not be advisable for health reasons. If in doubt, check with your vet before starting a running programme with your pooch.
2. Train your dog to run on or off the lead
It is important to ensure you have control over your dog at all times when you are running, whether that is on or off the lead. Teaching your dog to stay by your side will ensure you are not dragged along, or alternatively training him to stay close to you while off the lead (with a good recall) will ensure he is safe when hitting the countryside.
3. Start slow and build it up gradually
Just like you wouldn’t jump off the couch one day and then run a marathon, your dog won’t be able to either. Too much too soon will increase their chance of injury, just as it would for a human. It’s best to start with longer walks adding in short burst of jogging every few minutes, and then slowly building up the amount of time you are running for. This allows the both of you to progress together at a safe and healthy pace.
4. Remember to warm up!
Before any workout, ensure both you and your dog are warmed up thoroughly. Either walk for at least a few minutes before starting to run, or wait while your dog has a sniff around and ‘does his business’ before getting moving!
5. Consider the surfaces your dog is running on
Running off road will be easier on your dog’s joints (as well as yours!) and more enjoyable for the both of you. If your dog isn’t used to doing a whole lot of exercise, it will also take a while for the pads on your dog’s feet to harden up. No matter how fit your dog is, always make sure the surface he is running on is suitable and isn’t going to cause damage to his paws.
6. Remember tick protection
With your dog spending more time outside, running through long grass or going in and out of bushes poses him an increased risk of picking up ticks. Make sure your dog is up-to-date with tick protection and always check him over when you return from your runs!
7. Take water with you
It is important to always take water with you when running. Dogs can’t tell us when they are thirsty so it’s best to be over-cautious than your four-legged friend getting dehydrated. The Torus bowl is an extremely convenient solution for providing water to your dog when out and about. The bowl stores up to 2 litres of water, as well as filtering and auto-replenishing as your dog drinks. Leaving one of these in your car will ensure you always have cool and fresh water waiting for your pooch when returning from a run.
8. Don’t run when it’s too hot
Dogs have heavy fur coats and don’t sweat, meaning they overheat easier than humans do. Be especially careful when it’s hot outside; avoid running in the midday sun, run in the shade where possible, and avoid asphalt which can burn dogs’ paws.
9. Keep an eye on warning signs
Throughout your run, ensure your dog isn’t showing signs of overexertion, lethargy or heatstroke. If he is panting too much then best to stop and let him catch his breath, provide some fresh water and wait for him to recover. If your dog stops and refuses to continue, don’t force him and remember to take it much slower next time – you want him to enjoy the experience and look forward to running with you!
10. Have FUN!
Above all, make sure you both have fun! Once you and your dog have mastered the art of running together, he will be your best and most enthusiatic running partner for life!