Running with your dog can be beneficial for a lot of reasons. Not only is it a great way for you to stay in shape, but it can also provide your beloved pet with a way to let out some energy.
However, most of us wouldn't be able to jump right from regular physical activity to running long distances, and the same is true when it comes to your beloved pet. This is why dog training is essential, and you should always follow certain steps before and during this training.
Below, we'll take a look at everything you will need to know when it comes to training your dog to run with you, including what to know before you start dog training for running.
Before you start running with your dog, you will need to determine if they will be safe during the exercise.
While we think of dogs as always being high-energy and ready for an adventure, the truth is that not all dogs are suited for running. Going for a continuous run in one direction is much different than regular playtime for your dog. Some dogs may not enjoy running or may not be physically able to go for a run.
In most cases, you'll need to conduct some research to determine if your dog will be best suited for this intensive exercise before purchasing a dog running leash.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing the way or amount your pet exercises.
Going for a run may not be appropriate for dogs that are overweight or have certain medical conditions. These include:
While these are the most common conditions, you'll still want to check with your veterinarian to confirm other possibilities. And if your dog is only used to being outside for an hour or so at a time, you'll want to avoid jumping right into a long run.
Starting puppy training early may be tempting, but running too much before growth plates get a chance to close can cause medical problems in the future.
Growth plates refer to specific areas of bone that grow and lengthen when early bone growth takes place. These areas allow puppies to grow into adult-sized dogs, at which time the growth plates “close.”
Growth plates close at different ages depending on the size and breed of the animal. In general, this can range from eight months to one year, but it's always safest to check with a veterinarian rather than relying on an age range.
Shortening of the legs, elbow or hip dysplasia, or other uncomfortable conditions is possible if growth plates can't “close” properly. The specific risks vary between dog breed and size, but starting to go for runs on surfaces like sidewalks and roads without proper conditioning will increase their likelihood.
Even though taking your dog on a run when they're a puppy isn't recommended, you can still prepare them for an active lifestyle with puppy training. All you need to do is search for “dog training near me,” and you'll be able to find a variety of professionals to help you begin to get your dog in shape.
Playing fetch can help build your dog's endurance without causing too much strain. Some training facilities even have obstacle courses set up to increase your dog's agility, jumping abilities, and general skills. This can also prepare your pet for outside runs if they need to navigate changes in scenery like broken pavement or obstructions on a path.
Puppy training is also a great time to introduce speed cues. You can try this once your pet has gotten used to walking by your side. Come up with a simple command like “let's go” to show your dog that it's time for your walk to start. If you need your dog to go faster, introduce a different command like “get going.” This will train your dog to appropriately respond to your instructions while out on a run.
Just as we need to check on weather conditions before going for a run, we need to do the same thing for our pets. They may not be able to adjust to the same temperatures or conditions that humans can, so never assume that the conditions will be fine for your dog if they're fine for you.
If you live somewhere with snow and ice during the winter months, be extra cautious when bringing your dog along with you for your run. Not only can they become dehydrated in cold weather, but the snow and ice can cause damage to their paws. Certain ice melters could also potentially cause irritation or damage.
Booties are a great solution in these cases, allowing you to still go on a run without the added dangers. Just make sure that they fit properly, are made specifically for running, and that your dog has become acclimated to wearing them. This may take some time, but it's important to ease your pet into wearing these to make sure they are as comfortable as possible when it's time to go outside.
Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are both possibilities in hot weather, not just from the heat in the air but from the ground's temperature, especially if you are running on asphalt. It doesn't matter much to us since we wear shoes while running, but your dog could potentially burn its paw pads if the pavement is too hot.
To make sure it's safe, simply place the back of your hand on the hot surface for seven seconds. If it's too hot and you become uncomfortable, your dog will be too.
Now that you've scheduled an appointment with your veterinarian, invested in training, and checked the weather, it's time to purchase a dog running leash and go for a run!
Much like humans who take up running, your dog will need to build up a tolerance for running slowly. Even if you need to slow down your usual pace at first, it's important to ease your pet into the process. One minute of running followed by two or three minutes of walking is a great place to start. Make sure that you also consider the total distance, too.
When you begin, pay close attention to how your dog behaves with these questions:
In the beginning, you should avoid anything longer than a mile. You can increase this every few weeks to minimize risks. If your dog starts to slow down or becomes hesitant, slow down or stop entirely, so they get a break.
If you're still nervous about starting, you can always look up phrases like “dog training near me.” Experts in dog and puppy training can help both you and your dog get acclimated to your new running routine.
When it comes to actually get into a consistent exercise routine, you will need to pay careful attention to your dog. They can't tell us when they feel uncomfortable or are too tired to go for a run, so acting with an abundance of caution is best.
Here are some best practices to incorporate into your running schedule:
There you have it: everything you need to know about taking your dog for a run. The most important step is to check with your vet before starting the training process. Once you receive a seal of approval, you're ready to begin training.
Eager to learn more about dog training and running with your dog? Join our mailing list today.