Running with your dog is a brilliant way of exercising for both of you, but there are a few things you should consider before you start.
1. Is your dog fit enough? Take a good look at your canine pal. Some breeds of dog are simply not physically designed for long periods of running. Dogs with short snouts, like pugs or bulldogs, can have problems breathing and also have difficulty panting which can lead to overheating and physical stress. Obviously, if your dog is small or a short-legged breed like a dachshund or terrier, he may have trouble keeping up! Bear in mind how many strides your running partner has to take compared with yours and if in doubt, consult your vet. If you are intending to run long distances and are unable to take frequent breaks, then running with your dog may not be for you.
2. Equipment You should never run with your dog’s leash attached to the collar. Always use a correctly and comfortably fitted harness so that should your dog stop suddenly, the leash will not abruptly tighten and cause pain or distress. Never use a choke chain! In warm weather, your dog will need to drink regularly. Try to make sure the route you’ve planned offers plenty of opportunity for this or carry a small bowl and a bottle of water with you. It’s a good idea to put a supply of poop bags in your backpack too, just in case!
3. Conditioning work You would not set off to complete a marathon on your first run and neither should you expect your dog to do so. Introduce running through interval training: jog for a few minutes, and then walk for a short distance gradually increasing the time spent running in between breaks. Don’t be tempted to rush the process. Your dog will enjoy himself much more if he is fit enough to keep up easily and injuries will be avoided. You should maintain this strategy throughout your runs. This allows your dog the chance to enjoy a good sniff, socialise with other dogs you might meet and relieve himself frequently, as dogs are inclined to do!
4. Discipline While out running with your dog, you will inevitably encounter hazards and you must be confident that your dog is obedient and well-mannered, whether on or off the leash. Time spent at a walk teaching your dog to walk to heel is time well spent, as is a course of dog obedience training sessions. With practice, you may ultimately be able to run with your dog off-leash if you have a suitable area in which to do so, although you should always carry a leash with you just in case of emergencies.
Running with your canine companion is a great way for both of you to enjoy the countryside and to get fit. Do your preparation, be attentive to your dog’s needs and enjoy!