Dogs have probably learned to run as soon as they learned how to walk. And good runners, they are. Did you know that most breeds can run on a speeed average of 25-30 km/h for a short distance? That’s considerably fast (and can outrun many of us).They make good exercise partners because it’s second-nature to them and they are full of energy. But before you lace up and hit the road with your four-legged running buddy, make sure you know the dos and donts of running with your dog.
Do: Train your dog to run with you
This is perhaps the very first thing you need to do. According to the American Kennel Club, your dog should master loose-leash walking. “Loose leash walking” is what you call when you walk with your dog on a leash, but you don’t have to pull on it every now and then to keep your dog attuned to your pace and direction. This is necessary because you don’t want your dog being distracted during the run, or walking in front of you to lead your trail, or even causing an accident by tangling your legs or tripping you along the way. You want your dog to run alongside you, taking your cues on where to turn and how fast to run. This can take a while, but it is necessary if you want to be running with them relaxed and worry-free.
Check out this page on loose-leash walking.
Don’t: Start your dog too early
Do not force your puppy to go outside and log those miles with you. It is dangerous for them, as it can damage their joints and bones as they’re not fully developed yet. The right age varies in breed, so consult with your veterinarian when it’s safe for them to run those distances.
Do: Check if your dog is a runner, or how far their breed and size can run
Biology would tell you that larger breeds can run faster and longer than smaller breeds. Check your dog’s breed and size, in order to know what their limitations are and if they can keep up with you. For example, Shih Tzus are considered not to be very good jogging companions. You can only get a few minutes of running before they fall behind or stop running at all. Shih Tzus also don’t do well in hot temperatures, so living in a tropical country, they really can’t withstand the heat as much as you can. Labradors, on the other hand, are fantastic running companions. They are good long distance runners, and there’s a good chance they can keep up with your pace.
Don’t: Neglect their nutrition
If you’ve been running for quite some time, you probably bring a water bottle with you and some energy gels. The same goes for your dog. After some time, thirst is inevitable and it’s important to pause and check if they need to drink or take a breather. Give them a treat for a job well done so far, but not too much as it might upset their stomach if you decide to start running again.
Do: Visit the vet to monitor their health and get necessary protection like anti-flea
Most marathon races will require you to present a medical certificate that says you are fit to run the distance. This means that you’ve undergone test to determine if you don’t have underlying diseases such as hypertension or lung problem, or else running can endanger your life. It’s the same with your dog. Make sure they are fit and healthy to join you, as running can be a rigorous and high-impact activity.
Also, unlike you, your dog is running without the protection of clothes or shoes. They can be exposed to a flea-infested environment. Be careful also not to run on very rocky/sharp surfaces as it can cause injury to your dog’s paws.
Don’t: Force your dog to continue running (or walking) if they refuse to
No, they are not “just lazy”. While it may look funny to see a pet owner pulling their dog to move and the dog ignoring them, it can be sign that your dog is already feeling unwell. Pay attention to their behavior. Remember, dogs can’t talk. They can’t tell you outright is they’re hurting somewhere.
Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Heavy panting, with their tongue sticking out more tha usual
- Disorientation, lack of balance and bumping into things
- Lethargy and weakness
- Dark red gums
- Extreme thirst
Stop immediately if you witness any of the abovementioned signs. Bring them to the vet if necessary.
Do: Have fun!
Other than being a great bonding experience for you and your dog, running is one of the best exercises out there that can help you stay fit mentally and physically. Same goes for your dog. Daily exercise can help extend their life and keep them happy and healthy.