By Ashley Watson
Whether you are training for a 5K or just trying to stay in shape, running with your dog is a great way to get exercise for yourself and for your canine. While all dogs need exercise, some are better runners than others. This article in Runner’s World breaks down the different breeds in terms of which dogs are built for certain conditions, such as weather and distances.
While some breeds are better long-distance runners than others, all dogs are built for constant stopping and starting. That’s why you should always use common sense when you’re on a run with your dog. If you are thinking of turning your dog into a running partner, Vetri-Science® of Vermont has put together some basic tips to get you started.
Only Run with Mature Dogs
Many experts recommend that you should wait until dogs are at least 18 months of age before you attempt to jog more than a short distance with them. This ensures that their bodies have fully developed. Some breeds may take up to 24 months for their growth plates to fully close, so ask your veterinarian if you aren’t sure about your dog’s fitness level or age.
Veterinarian and founder of the All Star Dog Run, Elizabeth Devitt, also recommends ensuring that your dog is completely trained to walk on a leash. “Long before you begin running with your dog, you want them totally leash trained,” she told Competitor magazine. There are also some handy gadgets available to help control your dog when running public parks and other populated areas.
Many dogs get overheated when they run, especially in the summer, but there are ways to prevent this. If possible, take your dog on a run near water. Getting your dog’s entire body wet is the fastest way to cool him down. Give your dog plenty of water before, after, and during the run. Be sure to take extra water, and a collapsible bowl with you to prevent dehydration.
Stop and take breaks. Even if you aren’t tired, your dog might be, so learn how to recognize signs of fatigue and overheating in your dog. Usually, when your dog slows down, or has his ears down, this is a sign that you need to stop. If the dog is panting, he may be dehydrated. It’s best to take breaks before your dog gets tired. Also keep in mind that some breeds are more prone to getting overheated, such as pugs and huskies (in the summer).
Just like humans, dogs need to build up to longer distances. Start with a mile or less and build up to 3 or 4 miles over a 4 to 6 week period. There’s some debate over what distance is too long for a dog. Many health experts say that 3 miles in humans is a good distance to stay fit and prevent injury from overworked muscles and joints. But only you will know your dog’s limits. Once you do, it can be a very rewarding experience for you and your companion.
Do you run with your dog? Share your tips with us on Facebook.