Running with dogs is pretty easy, providing you keep these X things in mind.
Running with your dog seems so easy: you get your dog, you go outside and you run.
In some ways it is this simple. That is the beauty of it. You like to run. Your dog likes to run. Everybody’s a winner.
But if you’ve never run with your dog before, it can seem daunting. The fact of the matter is: dogs make great running partners. Unlike us humans, they are always enthusiastic about going outside and getting some exercise.
But just because you have a dog doesn’t mean it is ready to run straight away.
Your four legged partner might be super energetic around the house, but if your dog isn’t in running shape, you might end up walking back home.
#1 Warm up (aka go toilet)
First things first, take your four-legged friend to the toilet.
#2 Practice commands
Then do a little bit of practice heeling and general commands on leads. Reinforce good behaviour with praise and pettings. Best to avoid treats right before running.
#3 Now warm up
Now that toileting is out of the way, it’s time to actually start warming up.
There’s loads of methods for how to warm up for a run (& cool down after running). Just a few dynamic stretches before running is enough followed by a brisk 5 minute walk to warm up.
Give yourself and your dog a few minutes of walking or slow jogging before you pick up the pace and start running. It also gives you companion another chance to go and relieve themselves. Take it from me, getting into a good running flow only to suddenly stop for a toilet break isn’t the best.
Once suitably warm, build up to a run. Follow this and you’ll be up and running in no time.
#4 Embrace four legged enthusiasm
Most dogs are very eager at the beginning of a run (more than I can say for myself sometimes). Being eager and excited can mean they run slightly ahead and can be extra bouncey for the first mile or so of a run. This is normal. After a mile or two, the dog will settle into a pace with his or her human partner.
Likewise, it’s also completely normal for a dog to start lagging behind after a few miles. That initial enthusiasm has gone. This is where it is important to monitor your dog for excessive panting, breathing fast and hard or any signs of lameness.
#5 Start out slow
Much like people, running on consecutive days is not a problem for you and healthy dogs (providing the workouts are not too intense).
The point is not to over do it.
#6 Set some goals
The goal is to maintain your dog’s fitness, without working him to the point of injury or fatigue. The same goes for your body too. If your dog shows any signs of soreness after long or fast sessions, or maybe they are just lacking their normal enthusiasm for a run, then have a day off or go for an easy walk.
It’s also totally find not to set any goals other than having some fun outside.
#7 Get a running schedule
TK NEEDS FLESHING OUT
What if you want to run more than 3 days a week?
Well you may have to consider leaving the canine athlete at home. They will probably be quite annoyed with you when they see you putting your running shoes on and leaving without them. But they’ll forgive you. Rest and recovery are as important as the activity itself.
#8 Get off the beaten track
Running on pavement is hard on your body and your dogs paws. Pounding the miles away on softer ground like dirt, wood chips and grass helps to lift some of the battery both your bodies take. Less wear and tear on muscles, bones and joints is always a good thing.
Plus think of all the interesting sights, smells and sounds there is for your dog to enjoy.
In my opinion though, the biggest advantage of running off-road is that it forces you alter your stride. You will encounter more hills, more directional changes and obstacles. This keeps you, your body and you dog thinking, making for a more fun (and engaging) run.
#9 Beware of ticks
There’s just one downside about wild running…
The unfortunate part of being outdoors with your dogs, especially on trails, is ticks. Not only can these can be a problem for your dog, but you too. Protect yourself by wearing bug spray and long socks (long socks on your dog too is probably overkill).
Check with your vet that your pet is up to date with tick medication. After runs through woodland or long grass, be sure to check your dog (and yourself) for any ticks. If you find any, remove them. If your dog does get bit, call your vet.
#10 Take water breaks
Dogs can’t tell us when they’re thirsty, so it’s our job to make sure they stay hydrated.
You will know how much your dog drinks, but it’s better to offer them too many times than not enough. You’ll want to carry a water bottle and container your dog can drink from.
Dog hydration is important, so until you have an idea of how much your dog needs, consider stopping every 10 minutes or so to offer water.
Especially if it’s hot.
#11 Have a poo plan
As a responsible dog owner, you know better than to leave dog mess behind. Just don’t forget your bags when you go for a run.
But this is only part one of the challenge. The next is where to put it. Sometimes you going to have to hold onto it until you find a bin. Personally, I like to give my dogs chance to go before we start running. Make it part of your warm up. Believe me, it’s better at the start than mid run up a hill.
#12 Be aware of warning signs
During and after your run, you want to keep an eye on your four legged partner. Here are some things to keep an eye open for:
- Signs of heatstroke or overexertion
- Drooling and dark red gums
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Excessive panting.
#13 Listen to your dog
It also goes without saying: if your dog stops and refuses to continue running, don’t force them.
If you dog seems overheated, find some shade and give them some water. You can even pour it over their head and body to help cool them down.
Just don’t let them gulp too much water right after exercise. This can cause them to swallow too much air and can cause a fatal condition from bloat.
#14 Check dog paws
When you are back from your run, be sure to check your dogs paws. You want to look for cuts or injuries like burns they might have got while running.
If you run in the snow, try to avoid roads that have been treated with salt as this can sting their paws and upset their stomachs if they lick it. Ouch!
#15 Don’t give treats too soon
After a good run, the temptation is to treat your dog with a treat. But it’s best to hold off on treats until they have calmed down a bit. Reward your dog with petting, praise and lots of attention.
There’s just one more thing to remember: have fun.