For the most part (and especially if you’re participation is mostly recreational), running is a fairly simple sport.
So, running with your dog should be fairly simple too, right?
Well, yes and no. Sure, running with your dog can be simple and fun. But before you lace up and leash up, for Fido’s sake, there are a few factors you should consider.
Below, Heidi Ganahl, CEO and founder of Camp Bow Wow, North America’s largest and fastest growing pet care franchise– and the first-ever national sponsor of Bark for Life, shares nine tips to ensure that both you and your dog have a great and safe workout.
1. Start Slow
Ganahl says: If Fido has never been out for a run with you, don’t expect him to be up for a marathon. Start with a combination of running and walking for a short time until you notice that his endurance is increasing. Just as humans are, dogs are susceptible to stress fractures and heat stroke. Your jog with Fido should include five minutes of warm-up, 20 minutes of jogging and five minutes of cool-down. During the summer, avoid jogging during the hottest times of the day and stop if your dog is lagging behind you.
2. Be Mindful of the Weather
Ganahl says: You know how torturous it can be to run on a brutally hot day with high humidity so don’t subject Fido to that as well. Dogs can overheat very quickly and are susceptible to heat stroke. If you absolutely must run that day, go during the early morning hours, between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., before the sun becomes scorching hot, or leave Fido at home.
3. Wear Proper Accessories
Ganahl says: As mentioned before, it’s wise to run during the cooler hours but this often means running before the sun comes up or after it has gone down. If running in the dark, be sure that you and Fido accessorize with some reflective gear so that you are visible to traffic.
4. Watch Out for Fido’s Feet
Ganahl says: Pavement and asphalt can get incredibly hot on sunny days and can quickly burn your pup’s feet. Concrete emits heat which can increase the body temperature of your pet relatively quickly. Gravel can be dangerous as well, as it can puncture Fido’s paws. To be safe, only take Fido running on dirt trails, grass or sand. Stop periodically during your run to check his paws for burns or cuts. Too much walking or running on concrete can also stress joints and irritate your dog's foot pads.
Ganahl says: Make sure Fido has had a chance to drink water and hydrate before you head out on a run. If you’re going first thing in the morning, wait until he’s had a bowl or two of water. Remember to bring along a portable bowl or cup so you can stop and give your pup some water throughout your run.
6. Keep a Watchful Eye
Ganahl says: Dogs are people pleasers and if you want to keep running, dogs will often work to keep up even if they may be in pain. Be sure to check on your dog and make sure he/she doesn’t look pained or like he/she is suffering from heat exhaustion.
7. Lather Up
Ganahl says: Believe it or not, dogs are susceptible to sunburns. If you’re running on a sunny day, be sure to apply sunscreen to both yourself and Fido if your dog has shorter hair or are a lighter color.
8. Eating Before or After Running
Ganahl says: Make sure that your dog does not eat one hour before or after running. Some dogs are susceptible to bloat and eating too close to exercising can be extremely dangerous.
9. Not Ready to Run
Ganahl says: Dogs’ growth plates are not fully formed until 18 months old, so you should speak to a veterinarian before running with your dog if he/she is younger than 18 months. Although jogging is a great form of exercise, not all dogs are built to jog. If you want to jog with your pet, choose a breed that is suited for distance-running.