Looking for a fun, all-weather running buddy? Your dog can be your enthusiastic training partner, writes Radhika Meganathan
You need the practice every day, your dog needs the exercise regularly…. Running with your dog is, however you look at it, a win-win solution! Still, there are some things that need to be considered before you start running with your pooch. One such factor is that not all dogs are cut out for running long distance. That said, most dogs can be taught to be great training partners. Here are some tips for you if you have decided to run with your dog:
- First, check your dog. Though all dogs love to run, you must check if your beloved canine is suitable for you to run long distance. How’s your dog’s heath and build? Older dogs may have joint issues while dogs with short legs may not be able to keep up with your pace. Running is an high impact exercise, and your vet MUST approve your dog for running.
- Consider your dog’s breed and temperament. Dogs with squishy faces may get breathing trouble if made to run long distance, while dogs with long legs may end up with arthritis. Sporting and herding breeds are the most likely to run the longest distances, but surprisingly, small dogs can be extremely good runners, as they weigh less and feel less stress on their joints.
- Check your training: Teach your dog essential commands like ‘Sit’ or ‘Leave it’. A long leash is a must, since it gives you the control over your dog and avoid dangers like your dog running into traffic or chasing a wayward squirrel. Ideally, their nose should be in level with your knee when you both walk and run. If you don’t have the time or bandwidth to train your dog, an obedience class or dog trainer is a great investment.
- Figure out a place: If You have a park near your home, that’s a good place to run – just make sure your dog is disciplined enough to not run into other people! Not all parks allow dogs, so it is good idea to find a place where you and your pooch can run. In fact, trail running is best for a dog’s joints, not to mention yours and there is plenty of natural scenery and smells around to keep both of you interested.
- Work out a routine: A dog is said to be man’s best friend because they are a lot similar too! Just like how a human cannot go from sedentary to 5k in a jiffy, a dog cannot start running from Day 1. So, you have to find a basic training plan that is beginner-friendly and then build it up from there. And just like how heat affects humans, it affects dogs more, as they have fur coats and do not sweat. Take frequent water breaks and run in the shade. Avoid hot blacktop, asphalt, or sand, which can burn dogs’ paws.
- Monitor and maintain. Once you start running with your dog, there are some things to keep in mind. Stay vigilant for signs of unease, weakness, drooling, vomiting or exertion in your dog, during and after your run. Should your dog stop in the middle of a run and wants to rest, let him. If there is any adverse sign – for example, he looks worried or avoids you as you approach him with his running leash, leave him home and restart after a break.
Though it may take some extra work, it’s worth running with your dog because of the obvious pros. End of the day, a dog can be your running partner without having to worry about safety and reliability, and work towards not just training but also all-around fitness and fun.