Running with your dog: top tips from a trainer
Walking, jogging and running with your dog is a great way for the two of you to bond – it’s a way to get outdoors and enjoy some sunshine together, and comes with the feel-good factor of physical exercise!
However, running with your dog can be vastly different to running with a fellow human (though that depends on the human, I suppose). There’s traffic to contend with, extra water to carry, and of course, dogs regulate their body heat differently to us.
On top of this, some dogs get very excited outdoors with all the sights to see, squirrels to chase, and no shortage of new things to sniff!
But little challenges shouldn’t stand in the way of a healthy lifestyle for you and your pet – so here are a few tips to keep in mind next time you’re lacing up the trainers and clipping on a lead.
Make sure your dog’s breed is suited to running
Not all dogs are built the same. Greyhounds and Lurcher types excel at running, but only for a short distance.
Dogs like Collies and Dalmatians are ready to run distance, whereas breeds like bulldogs are better served with walks.
As well as breed, you need to be mindful of your dog’s fitness levels too. It always pays to start slowly, dogs can be injured from over-exercising just as we can!
Build from brisk walks to light jogs before attempting more ambitious runs, and if you’re not sure how far is too far for your pup, check with your vet first.
Keep them close – but not too close!
There are plenty of options for leads from retractable to bungee, hand-held to those that sit on your waist.
Which option is right for you will likely come down to your budget and preference, but a good choice is easily visible and sturdy. Whichever you choose, start slowly with a walk to let you both get used to the new lead, no one wants to be tangled up and tripped mid-trot!
Also, always keep your dog on lead around sheep and other wildlife and make sure you’re completely confident in your dog’s recall before letting him loose during a run. It’s especially important to keep your dog on a lead if you’re running in town or near roads.
Seeking a speed record? Leave your pup at home!
If you’re chasing a new personal best, you should walk the dog at another time to save any frustrations.
Biologically, our dog’s needs during a run are very different to ours. If it’s warm, your dog may need regular breaks to cool down and stay hydrated. Be sure to pack extra water and keep an eye out for shaded spots.
When running in cold weather, be aware of patches of ice which you or your dog could slip on and regularly check their paws for irritation caused by salt on the roads. If you’re unsure of whether it’s too cold and icy to run with your dog, step outside with them before you head off and look for any signs of discomfort such as lifting their paws off the cold ground or shivering.
Don’t forget the poo bags and be patient if they want to stop and sniff around!
Unless you’ve been running with your dog for a while, we recommend losing any expectations of time, pace or distance. Just set out, take it easy, and enjoy some time running with your best friend in tow!
Ready, steady… run!
If in doubt, always check with your vet before running with your dog and avoid running on hot, summer days.
But if you start slowly and proceed with patience, you and your dog could become fantastic running buddies!
For more training and dog health advice, check out our other blogs here.