Your dog is pretty much always up for being your running partner and can be a great motivator for your fitness training. Here are some tips for doing it safely:
Even dogs that seem very fit are not necessarily ready to run 30, 40 or even 20 minutes without stopping on their first try. Gauge your dog’s endurance and build it up slowly. If your dog seems to want to stop (he either stops, or seems to be pulling off to the side a lot) let him stop and take walking breaks.
CHANGE IT UP
Moderation and variety are key. If you are always running the same paths at the same speed, you will eventually come to a standstill in improving your dog’s heart health and muscle growth. Do different kinds of runs: Base long run, Progression, Fartlek, Free style, Hills etc. and regularly change the types of terrain that you run on: grass, paths, pavement, snow, other. (read more on types of runs in a future post)
DO NOT RUN WHEN YOUR DOG’S STOMACH IS FULL
Avoid feeding your dog at least 45 minutes before and after your run, especially if your dog has an increased risk of gastric torsion.
Dogs can dehydrate quickly. Always carry water with you and a portable water bowl. You can reduce the risk of dehydration by staying in the shade or running at times of the day when it is cooler. Also avoid allowing your dog to drink from puddles or snow, it is full of toxins that can be harmful to your dog.
IF YOU CAN, TRY TO RUN IN THE MORNING OR THE AFTERNOON
The air quality is best very early in the morning, for healthier runs that are easier on the lungs go earlier rather than later and avoid going during rush hour.
Watch out for cars, bicycles, jagged glass, and be on the alert at all times. Also check for signs that your dog is tiring, dehydrating or limping. Stop completely if he is limping and give him water if he seems dehydrated.
CONSIDER USING A LEASH THAT ATTACHES TO YOUR WAIST
Using traditional leashes can result in you performing awkward movements with your body that may end up leading to injuries – in particular back pain.
KEEP YOUR DOG AT YOUR SIDE
Having your dog pulling or out in front of you, will put you in awkward physical positions and could lead to injury for yourself through wear and tear and also from tripping from being off balance. Make sure your dog runs beside you to reduce the chances of injury. (see our post on running with your dog: the basics, for tips on training your dog to heel to your side).
ROUND OUT YOUR FITNESS ACTIVITIES
To avoid injury – especially if you are using traditional leashes- a great preventative measure would be to regularly do yoga – preferably hot yoga or any other activity that involves core strengthening and flexibility such as Pilates or martial arts.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT SURFACE
It’s preferable to run on softer surfaces such as grass, gravel and earthy trails. If choosing between pavement and sidewalk, choose pavement. Running is a high impact activity and the softer the surface the better.
KNOW YOUR DOG AND YOUR BREED
Is your dog a long distance slow trotter or a sprinter? Here is a non-exhaustive list of dog breeds and their running styles. The list is generic, but a reasonable starting point . Every dog is different, get out running with your dog and see where he fits. http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/jog.htm
CHECK WITH YOUR VET
The odds are you have no reason to worry about running with your dog, but you never know and it would be best if you discussed your dog’s exercise plans with your vet.
CLEAN YOUR DOGS PAWS AFTER EACH RUN
Use a wet towel and make sure his paws are clean when you get home. Debris or dirt stuck on your dog’s paws can irritate them and potentially cause infection.
GIVE YOUR DOG FRESH WATER AFTER EACH RUN
Fresh cold or somewhat cooler than room temperature water, in a clean bowl, will encourage your dog to drink water and assist in recovering from his work out.
Thank you for reading and have fun!
Note: Your local Montreal Dog Walkers follow these tips every day to make sure your runs and walks are done safely, we also make sure to clean your dog’s feet and freshen his water bowl after each session.