Perks of Running With Your Dog
Having a furry friend comes with a lot of benefits. They help ease loneliness, lower blood pressure, decrease stress, and improve your mood. Dogs, in particular, are more apt at being leash trained, making them the perfect workout buddy! If you're not already, here are a few reasons to consider running with your dog:
They Keep You On Track
Once an animal gets into a routine, it's hard to get them out. They will expect you to take them out at a certain time, whether that is in the morning before you head to work, or during the nighttime before bed. Your canine companion will be expecting to go out, and it's hard to ignore a dog that becomes an energetic nuisance until you take them out for a run.
Keeps You (and your dog) In Shape
While a long walk is usually enough for most dogs, what they really LOVE is a good run. This will push you to keep up with them as you run your route. Runs help improve both you and your furry friend's muscle tone, which maintains a strong cardiovascular system.
Bored dogs tend to act out. If your dog barks a lot or displays destructive behavior, take them out on a run with you and see the difference it can make. Not only will your dopamine levels rise from the run, but your dog will be less likely to destroy your home.
Participating in an activity consistently that you both love is a great way to bond with your pet. After a routine is established, running will soon become familiar to your dog and their favorite pastime with you.
How to Start
First and foremost, take your dog to the vet for a check up. If they need any shots, you'll want to get that taken care of before you start running together outdoors. A licensed veterinarian will be able to give you more specific instructions on how to best incorporate a new running routine into your dog's life.
If you or your dog are just starting out with running, you will want to ease into it. Alternate between walking and running for the first couple of weeks until you understand their limit. On average, most dogs are okay with a brisk pace for 20 minutes three times a week. Take into account your dog's breed, personality, and temperament. Some breeds are able to run up to 20-30 miles a week, but it is possible that your dog's body or personality won't allow for that. Use your best judgement of what they can handle. Keep in mind that the older the dog, the less they will be able to do.
Once you both have built up your stamina and endurance, you are ready to slowly increase your mileage in 10% intervals. The pads on your dog's feet should toughen up more as time goes on, making it easier for them to go further.
Want to include your furry friend when you run in races? Check the rules! A lot of events will let you bring your dog with you.
Keep in Mind
Temperature changes are always a challenge for dogs. Account for their type of coat for the weather. A long-haired dog with a thick coat can easily get overheated in hot temperatures. While a short-haired dog can catch a chill in cooler temps.
If you live somewhere where trucks or neighbors put down salt when it gets icy, you might want to invest in booties for your dog. Certain kinds of salt can damage the pads on their feet and you don't want your running partner to be in pain!
Dogs should be panting, not struggling to breathe during your run.
Pay attention to your distance and speed and how it affects your pup.
Make sure you aren't out of breath either. You still need to be able to give your dog commands.
Be prepared for anything. Carry a first-aid kit and water with you for longer runs. Have a backup plan for someone to pick you and your pet up in case one of you gets injured.
Always have your dog on a leash. No matter how well-trained you think they are, all it takes is one split second for them to run into the road or feel threatened by another person/animal.
Bring some small bags with you in case you need to pick up your dog's waste.
Invest in a hands-free leash. It will go around your waist, keeping your dog safe and your hands available while you run. Never use a retractable leash, as they are prone to breaking and won't give you as much control over your dog's movements.
While some breeds are known to be excellent runners, like Australian Shepherds, that doesn't mean other breeds can't run long distances as well. Check your local shelters to see if they have a dog that will fit your active lifestyle.