As a dog lover and a runner, you are naturally excited about the prospect of running with your favorite friend and have some questions on how to run with your dog. There is some training to get started with and plenty of questions like what age to start and how to get them used to the leash. Both you and your dog need regular exercise, so it makes perfect sense to get fit together. Running with your dog can help you lose weight, stay motivated, and improve the overall health of both you and your furry friend.
While most dogs will happily run alongside you, there are a few things you should know about how to run with your dog before hitting the trail:
See Your Veterinarian First
Before starting any running program with your dog, it’s important that your dog is examined by your veterinarian. The last thing you want is to cause your dog pain or discomfort on your runs due to an underlying medical issue.
Schedule a physical examination with your veterinarian and be sure to mention your intention to run with your dog. The veterinarian will take a close look at your pet and check to ensure that your pet is healthy and ready to run. Once your dog has the all-clear, you can start training with your new running buddy.
Both you and your dog need regular exercise—why not get fit together? Running with your dog can help you lose weight, stay motivated, and improve the overall health of both you and your furry friend.
Train Your Dog Properly
Will your dog suddenly yank on the leash when he spots a squirrel? Does he know not to stray into the street while you run?
It may sound obvious, but training your dog to run properly on a leash will make your runs safer and more enjoyable. Here are a few of the basics that your dog should know:
Leave It: Trash is unfortunately common along roads, sidewalks, and trails. Teaching your dog to leave things alone will keep them from ingesting harmful objects while you run.
Heel: Some runners prefer their dogs to run ahead of them and pull slightly—in fact, there is a sport called “canicross,” which is all about dogs pulling their humans to help them run faster.
But for most runners, a dog pulling on the leash is irritating and distracting. Training your dog to run by your heel will keep them close by your side and reduce the amount of pulling.
Recall: Every dog should be trained to come when they’re called. However, some dogs won’t come in every situation. This is why it’s critical that you train your dog to come in emergencies with a unique word such as “pronto” or “stat.” This signals to your dog that it’s vital that they come to you immediately.
Gear Up Properly
Technically, you don’t need special gear to run with your dog. However, there is gear that both of you can wear which will make your runs safer and far more enjoyable.
Best Running Gear for Dogs: If your dog has a tendency to pull, be sure to outfit them in a harness rather than a collar. This will help prevent neck and trachea injuries.
Waist leashes are another option for runners with dogs. Waist leashes go around your waist and hook to your dog’s harness, allowing you free use of your hands while you run. It may surprise you to learn that waist leashes are safer than hand leashes and can reduce the risk of injury when used properly.
Other gear to consider for your dog include dog boots (to protect their pads), reflective gear, and a pop-up water bowl for water breaks.
Best Running Gear for People: If you’ve been running for a while, you may already have the essentials—high-quality running shoes, moisture-wicking activewear, reflective running gear, and a water bottle to stay hydrated.
With Fido in tow, you may need to carry additional items on your runs. Consider gear that allows you to store extra water to keep both you and your pup hydrated, such as a fitness hydration belt.
Capri fitness leggings with an integrated fitness belt waistband can also help you store energy gels for you and dog treats to reward your pup for a job well done.
Ease into Your Running Routine
You might be logging 20+ miles per week, but keep in mind that your dog is starting from scratch. Just like humans, some dogs need to warm up and build their endurance before they start tackling 10Ks with you.
This is especially true depending on the breed of dog. Some dogs—such as Viszlas or Siberian Huskies—are natural athletes, bred to run miles and miles without tiring. Others may reach their limit after only a couple miles.
Watch your dog closely for signs that they’ve reached their limit, such as falling behind you or excessive panting. Your dog will try desperately to keep up with you and could potentially injury themselves if you don’t put on the brakes.
With proper training and the right gear, you can begin incorporating your dog you’re your running routine with ease. Just remember to periodically check the pads of your dog’s feet for wear and get regular vet checkups. That way, you can keep your furry best friend running beside you for years to come.