Running with your dog is an excellent way to provide both your dog and yourself with a good workout. It is also a very good bonding experience, and breaks the monotony of tediously pounding the pavement alone. Dogs make excellent running partners as they are always keen; on those days when you are feeling lazy, your pooch will pester you endlessly until you are forced to put on your running shoes and fetch the leash.
However, when running with your dog, there are a few points that need to be considered to ensure the safety of your pet.
- Firstly, you need to make sure that your dog is up to the exertion. Some breeds are not physically built to run long distances, including the flat nosed pooches, such as pugs and boxers, which have difficulty breathing when exerted. Running is not recommended for dogs that have weak hearts or difficulty breathing, or for elderly dogs – anything over 7 years is no longer considered a spring chicken in dog years – while fit dogs may cope, it in not wise to start running with an elderly dog that is not active. A vet check won't do any harm, and will assure you that your pooch is physically up to the challenge.
- Start off slowly, giving both yourself and your dog a chance to build up fitness before killing you both on the first day. Ease into the training, but keep up a regular schedule, running shorter distances more often rather than going for a long run once or twice a week.
- To prevent dehydration make sure that you take an adequate supply of water with you on your run to keep both you and your pooch hydrated. Know what the signs of dehydration are – excessive panting, drooling or foaming at the mouth, glazed eyes – and keep an eye on your dog at all times to ensure that you are not overdoing things. Dogs do not naturally run flat out non-stop; they like to stop and sniff around, reading the doggy papers so to speak. Stop for breaks to let you pooch rest and just be a pooch.
- Be considerate of the fact that your dog doesn't have the latest running shoes. His paws are directly on the ground, and are prone to injury on hot, rough or jagged surfaces. Try to run on a soft substrate such as grass or beach sand rather than tar or gravel – this will be better for his and your joints too.
- When running with your dog on public roads or in public places you need to have proper control over him at all times. Restrain your dog with a sturdy collar and leash to prevent him from running into the road, where he could get killed or cause an accident. A remote dog training collar is a wonderful option that allows you to release your dog when running in a park or at the beach, yet still gives you total control while letting your dog run freely.
- If you are running with your dog in poor light make sure he has a light up collar or that his collar is fitted with reflective tape so that he is visible in the dark.
- You also need to maintain a healthy environment while striving for a healthy body and a healthy pet. Ensure that you carry poop bags and pick up after your dog at all times. In some areas this is required by law and failure to pick up behind your dog could result in a hefty fine, which could dampen the mood somewhat.
So invest in a new pair of running shoes for yourself, a dog training collar for your pooch, and hit the road this summer...