Running with Your Dog

running with your dogHave you ever considered running with your dog?  Well, you just might want to.  Now more than ever, man’s best friend is hitting the pavement or trails with their favorite human.  Why?  Many people run with dogs because they need to lose weight and quite frankly, so do their dogs.  On the other hand, other people just want the company and accountability of a running partner that won’t cancel on them.  Then there are the people who run at night that feel they could use the sense of security that a running canine companion provides them with.  Running with your dog gives you a willing partner at your disposal but before you lace up your dog’s sneakers, there’s something you need to consider.

Running with your dog: They may be willing but are they able?

First, you should consider the breed of your dog.  Unfortunately, some dogs are just not built to run.  Yeah, every dog can sprint around the living room or back yard but not every dog is suited for long distance running.  Dogs that have short noses and flat faces, such as the Bulldogs or pugs, are generally out of the question as they are more susceptible to breathing issues.  So what breeds are best suited for running?

Use this list as a guideline but if your dog is not on this list, don’t automatically discount him!

  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Australian Sheperd
  • Border Collie
  • Boxer
  • Brittany Spaniel
  • Dalmation
  • Fox Terrier
  • German Sheperd
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Standard Poodle
  • Vizslas
  • Weimarners
  • Whippets

Second, you should consider your dog’s age.  While puppies are generally very healthy, they are not fully developed until they are least 9 months.  Some puppies take up until the age of 2 years to become fully developed.  Just like your human children, puppies need time for their bodies to grow up and become strong enough for certain activities, like running.  Any form of intense training could leave your puppy with permanent damage.  Also, a senior dog in the sunset of his life may have weak or brittle bones or other conditions which may be exacerbated by strenuous exercise.

Third, think about your dog’s weight.  Is he overweight?  If so, you may need to begin by changing his diet.  If your dog doesn’t generally get much exercise, you should put him on a plan of daily exercise.  He will require a strenuous session of exercise every day for 30 – 60 minutes.  Start slow, and build up your dog’s stamina.  Once your dog is able to withstand an hour of exercise with ease then you may start to train him for running.

Finally, aside from weight, how is your dog’s overall health?  Before you go running with your dog it is advisable to visit the vet and have your dog thoroughly checked before you hit the open road with him.  High impact exercise is dangerous for dogs with certain conditions -especially joint problems.  Let your vet know your plan of action so he can give him a thorough examination.  Your vet will check your dog’s organs, especially his heart and lungs among other things.

Once you have figured out whether or not your dog is physically up for the challenge, you should follow a plan for running.  There is great advice to 5k plan in the book “How to Run with Your Dog: The Healthy and Safe Way to Run with Your Dog in 5 Easy Steps” by Sherpaherb.   His book not only outlines the couch to 5K plan but it also discusses other important things like running gear, commands your dog should know before he starts running, hydrating and fueling and signs that your dog is in distress.  Happy running!

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