If you’ve been feeling a little cooped up lately, chances are your four-legged friend feels the same way.
After a while, those walks to the park for a game of fetch might feel like a missed opportunity to get even more active.
You might want to try a dog jog.
Running with your dog is a great way to stay active, reconnect with your furriest family member, stay safe during solo runs, and reinforce positive pet behaviours along the way.
But there are some guidelines to follow to make sure you and your pet are running smoothly.
Keep the following in mind:
As much as every pooch can benefit from exercise, some breeds are just not run-ready.
If your pup is built for comfort more than speed – short-legged and short-snouted varieties can especially struggle – it might be best to leave them at home when you hit the road.
The last thing you want is to end up miles from home with a worn-out Basset Hound or wheezing Bulldog. That’s a recipe for switching your own workout from a leisurely run to hardcore endurance weight training.
You’ll know if your dog is a good potential running partner if they have energy to burn around the house.
If you’re already tossing tennis balls for hours on end, or if they’re zooming all over the couch every time you turn around, those are good signs you have a runner on your hands. Less so if their usual activity level puts them in danger of growing moss.
If leash discipline isn’t your dog’s strong suit, you’ll want to work on it during your regular walks (two tips: treats and consistency) before bringing them up to a full gallop.
Because as much as we’d all love to run free with our perfectly behaved best friends, let’s face it, not every dog is Lassie.
You’ll be running too, and unless you enjoy brushing off-road rash to chase your dog through the bushes (or worse, traffic), you want an obedient and reliable running partner who won’t dart away at the first sign of squirrel.
Plan to run with a leash, and make sure you’re confident in your dog’s ability to do so. Getting there will require diligence and focus. If you’re having a rough start, enlist another human to help reinforce the pack rules.
As for the leash setup, when your dog is ready you’ll want to put them in a non-chafing shoulder harness with a back loop, and you might want to try an extendable leash option once your furry friend proves themselves trustworthy.
Keep leash etiquette in mind, and hold your dog close whenever you cross paths with any other humans or canines to avoid tangles or clotheslining.
If you’re used to a brisk daily five-mile run, you might want to temper expectations for your first trip out with the dog.
Try a nice slow, even jogging pace over your usual shorter “business trip” dog walking route first as a primer, and go from there.
Remember, they’re new to running. Slow down when they slow down. Stop when they stop. Wait when they do their business (and definitely bring baggies for cleanup).
And if an encouraging “let’s go” command doesn’t get them back on track, don’t push – or pull.
If they’re tugging against the harness to go faster than is usual for you, a heel command and a quick short yank on your leash (just enough to remind them you’re there) will work better than sustained pulling – but as mentioned before, leash discipline should be worked out already.
Hot day? Bring a water bottle and a fanny pack with a collapsible bowl to keep both you and your dog hydrated.
What’s the best shoe to wear for interspecies running?
This can get tricky.
The grip-added features of a trail running shoe can help you be a more sure-footed master, but the deeper grooves and bigger lugs associated with trail running soles can make for a messy cleanup in case “it” happens.
A road running model makes the worst-step scenario a little less bad, but running exclusively over concrete surfaces can be tough on a pooch’s paws – especially when it’s hot.
All in all, a trail running shoe, extra vigilance, and a planned route with at least some natural, unpaved running surfaces are the best mix for all six legs involved.
And if your dog pulls up limpy from any initial test runs, you might want to explore booties or paw healing ointment options before you give it another try.
The main thing to remember, across every aspect of dog running, is you’re the responsible party. So always train your dog up, make every concession you can to their needs and abilities, and take small steps as you develop into a trusty running tandem.
Good luck, and enjoy your run.
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