Most dogs enjoy running. With the right breed, dogs can be the best running partners. Running helps dogs to maintain weight, build muscle tone, enhance endurance, stimulate the mind and release energy – just like for humans. If you want to train your canine companion to run alongside you, what kind of tips could you follow?
Whether you have run with your dog before or are a complete beginner, read on to explore our 10 top tips for running with your dog.
1. Start Easy to Get Your Dog in Shape
If you were not a regular runner, would you go on a 10-mile trail run today? Likelihood is, you wouldn’t do so without some training first. So don’t expect your dog to either.
Ease your dog into a running program. Start with a comfortable pace where you can communicate clearly with your dog. Commit to shorter miles initially, perhaps one to three miles a few times a week. By starting slow, you’re allowing your dog to form a positive relationship with running as an active participant. Soon enough, dogs will learn how you perform when running and develop its own pacing. Treat this process as a chance to bond and strengthen your friendship.
If you’re unable to commit each day to training your dog, consider looking for a dog running class near you. Professionals will know how to get your dog familiar with the sport, which means faster progress for when you are available.
2. Understand Your Breed
Some breeds were bred to run long distances, such as huskies and greyhounds. According the American Kennel Club, the best running dog breeds include Dalmatians, Springer Spaniels and Foxhounds. In comparison, short-snouted dogs such as Pugs and Bulldogs are prone to overheating. They can struggle with breathing and find it difficult to cool down.
A potentially fatal condition that you should be aware of is bloat. Bloat can occur when a dog exercises too quickly after eating or drinking. To prevent bloat, take a rest or go for a walk after meals and drinks. This will allow the stomach to digest its contents. Another way to prevent bloat is by using a slow feed dog bowl.
3. Discourage Sniffing
There is no doubt that dog owners’ want the best for their furry friends by encouraging them to explore and sniff the world. As you may have noticed already, dogs naturally sniff during walks. Sniffing helps them feel comfort and security of knowing the way back home. This explains why they show such enthusiasm by running faster to return to the dog pad, because they know the way!
But when it comes to running, the main activity (unsurprisingly) is to run. A dog’s sniffing habits can ruin your goal of maintaining a steady pace.
Luckily, you can ease your dog to sniff less. Allow them to sniff at the beginning of the run and less so during the run. Plan a route with wide paths and run in the center to reduce the amount of distractions. Continue to do this and dogs will progressively get accustomed to sniffing less when on runs.
4. Stay Positive
As with all dog training, you do not want to control your dog’s behavior through negative punishment and fear. Your dog can still learn to heel, watch your pace and listen to your commands through positive reinforcement and patience.
Treats, enthusiasm and petting are brilliant ways of rewarding good behavior. If your dog is leading too much, stop moving. When your dog learns to behave, reward them with one of their favorite treats.
5. Use a Short and Non-Retractable Leash
Dogs that are new to running are unpredictable. By using a hand held leash, it allows you to be in control for steering and stopping a dog for whenever is necessary. Specifically, use a short and non-retractable leash.
Short leashes will help keep the dog close and running by your side, deterring them from wandering. This will influence your dog to get to know and adopt your natural running pace. While it will take some training, most dogs can learn to run beside their owner.
Retractable leashes are a big no-no for running. The cord can easily wrap around yours, the dog’s and others’ legs. Thin cords can also easily cut through the skin.
Hip leashes or hands free dog leashes could be considered once your dog has been trained to run along your side and have learnt not to pull on the leash. They are not recommended for pullers or beginner dogs. Owners, particularly those who are lightweight, can easily be pulled into dangerous situations with little control.
6. Invest in a Running Harness
The best dog harnesses for running are designed to provide dogs the freedom to run without hindrance. If a dangerous situation were to arise, harnesses will allow you to gain full control of the dog with a gentle pull.
In contrast, collars are not recommended for running. Collars can cause a strangulation effect and limit how quickly you can move your dog away from harm.
7. Waste Concerns
As you can imagine, running with a bag of dog poop is not a pleasant experience. Ideally, plan a running route where there are public garbage cans on the way. This is especially important if you want to make the most out of your run or if you are travelling long distance.
Alternatively, there is a clever item called Turdlebag. Turdlebags are exactly what they sound like – a bag that carries turds (poo)! In fact, these bags are a 2-in-1 waste bag and poo carrier, and can be attached directly to the leash. The in-built bag dispenser allows quick and easy access. The bag is made from water-resistant fabric, making it safe for the washing machine. Ultimately, Turdlebags are an easy and effective way to carry dog poop without affecting your run.
8. Welfare Checks
Wherever you choose to take a run with your dog, whether that be the park, forest or city, it is always important to examine your dog during and after your run for things like ticks, foxtails and glass.
Do not forget areas such as inside the nose, rear and paws for foreign objects. Regular welfare checks will not only keep your dog happy and healthy, but also save you an expensive visit to the veterinarian.
9. Off Leash
If possible, incorporate a part of your running route where your pooch can run free. Continue on your run and allow your furry friend to explore. When it is time to re-unite, clip them bag onto the leash.
10. Consider the Weather
In the winter months, keep your dog warm by giving them a coat to wear. In the summer months, it is important to keep your dog cool. Plan a route where there is shade and take regular rests so you can both cool down, catch your breath and rehydrate.
If your dog enjoys swimming, another great way to cool down is by visiting water sources such as lakes. Adjust your route if you have to, and always make sure these water sources are safe.
Another tip for running in the summer is to start your journey early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures tend to be cooler. A dehydrated and overheated dog can lead to fatal consequences. Therefore, it is extremely important to avoid running these risks for the health of your dog. Take clean water and a portable water bowl. While dog water fountains are not portable, they are however brilliant ways of keeping your dogs cool and hydrated at home.