I enjoy having a running partner who is always willing to run but my first concern is always my dog's safety and enjoyment. I am a running coach and a dog lover, here are my best tips for running with your four-legged friend.
1. Is Fido Fit Enough?
Remember the first time you hit the road for a run? You didn't do three miles on your first run out and neither should your dog. Just like a person, a dog needs to adapt to fitness. Start slow. Take your dog out for a half mile at first, build to a mile and then build from there. Try a walk/run regimen at first. If I am on a long run, I might take him for a three mile loop or two (he is conditioned for that) and drop him off at home while I continue my run.
2. Hot Paws
You have those fancy running shoes, your dog's paws don't have the rubber soles to protect from the heat. Before you run on the street in the scorching heat, place your bare skin on the cement. If it is too hot for you, it is probably too hot for him too. Dogs will need to be acclimated to running in the heat, just like you.
3. Hydrate Your Running Mate
Hydration is important for you and is just as important for your dog. I bring water for Ollie on our runs or I plan our runs past a park or school water fountain. If I see signs of exhaustion like panting excessively, I let him lie in the shade to recover. His safety is always more important than my run.
4. Be a Pooper Scooper
Don't be that person who lets your dog poop in the neighbor's yard. Be prepared with plastic bags and do the right thing...clean up after your running buddy.
5. Keep it Short and Sweet
Your dog probably doesn't need to run a half marathon. (Some dogs may be trained for it, but you certainly can't expect it right out of the gate.) Too many miles can cause too much stress on his body if he is not properly trained. Keep the runs with your dog short and sweet. A 30 minute run will give your dog a great workout without taxing his body too much.
6. Don't Come Unleashed
No matter how well behaved your dog is, please always run with a leash. There are too many unknown factors that can change the situation in a blink of an eye. Stay in control with a leash.
7. Protect Yourself: "Get Off the Couch!"
While it is hard to believe, not all dogs are as sweet and friendly as my Ollie. I have had confrontations with stray or escaped dogs on my runs. Some have been aggressive, while some have obeyed my command to "go home." I read something funny on Facebook where a runner said that she would yell, "Get off the couch!" to unwelcome dogs on her runs. Apparently it worked.
Six legs are always better than two as long as you apply common sense and put your dog's safety and enjoyment first! Do you have any additional tips for running with your dog?
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