Safely Exercising With Your Pooch
Training with your dog can be rewarding for both owner and pooch. Dogs love to run and it can be a great way to burn off some of their energy that can make them a handful indoors. Daily exercise is just as important for them as it is for you. However, if you have never tried running with your pup before then it is important to ease them into. Below are some tips and precautions to get your trusty companion ready for the road and help make the experience as safe as possible for the both of you.
Is Your Dog Suitable For Long Running
Before you hook them up to the leash and go bolting out the door it is important to figure out if your dog will be able to handle the rigors of running. Some dogs are just meant for a fast pace and it can do more damage than good if you are not careful.
How big is your dog? Little dogs with short legs are probably not going to last very long on a run. For every one stride that you take, it may take them five to ten. Shorter dogs are not going to be very good companions for a training session for this reason.
Age and Hip Issues
Even though your dog may be bigger and more adept for running longer distances, their age and their predisposition to hip ailments may end up limiting them. Older dogs may benefit from longer walks rather than sustained running as they can tire out sooner. Also there are certain breeds that are prone to a condition called hip dysplasia, and running may not be recommended.
The best course of action is always to check with your vet to get their opinion on training with your dog and get their okay first. Better safe than sorry.
If your vet gives their seal of approval you can move on to getting out their together. Below are some tips for safe and healthy transition to running for your little buddy.
If your dog has never been out there with you then it is wise not to rush into a full out run. Just like you would not take an inexperienced human friend out there with you and expect them to keep up, your four legged partner will need some time to build up their stamina.
Start with long walks first. Not only does this help getting them used to being on the leash, it also helps their paws build up their padding. Fast running on hard surfaces is tough on the bottom of their paws so building up the equivalent of a callous will benefit them in the long term. Slow walks will also help you teach them leash control and how they should behave and what position you expect them to be in when they are out there with you. Having your dog aware of your pace and path will help ensure you will not trip over them when you start to pick up the pace. After a couple of weeks, you can start to add some sprints for a few yards to get them used to a faster pace and to see how they react.
Once you build up their fitness, gotten their paws acclimated to harder surfaces, and are confident in your leash control, then you can move on to longer sustained runs.
Always Keep An Eye On Them
Dogs can’t tell you “Hey, slow down a minute, please”. It is always key to look down and check on them and see how they are handling everything. Watch their gate to see if they are limping as well as their pace to see if they are waning. Especially on hot days, it you may need to stop a few times to let them catch their breath and make sure that they don’t get overheated.
As a runner, you know how important this is, but for dogs it is just as vital. They can’t sweat and they are covered in fur, so you can imagine how hot it can get for them. Always take some water with you and share some with your dog if they seem to need it.
Time of Day
While early in the morning or later in the evening are often the best times to run because it is often cooler, it may have the added benefit of providing less distractions. If you are constantly running into traffic, people, or other dogs, it may be more of a hassle. Also keep in mind that dogs with large chests are prone to a severe condition called bloat. This can be deadly and one way to reduce to the risk of this is to make sure that they do not do intense exercise for at least an hour before and after eating.
Give Them Time Off
If you do a lot of running on concrete it is important to give them some days off as this can be extremely rough on a dog’s joints and paws. Give them time to recover, make sure their the pads of their feet are in good shape, especially in the beginning.
As you did when you first started running, a slow build up is the best way to avoid injury and to get the most out of your run. They same goes for you best furry friend. Even though they may not be able to keep the ideal pace at first, eventually they will get there. A well run dog is also a very happy and healthy dog, so get them out there with you when you can and they will thank you for it. Below is a video with some added tips for running with your dog.