Running with Your Dog

Tips on Running with Your Dog
By  Shannon the Dog Lover

Searching for a running partner? Look no further than your 4-legged companion. 
I find that when I take my dog, Teton, on runs with me, my pace, endurance and mood improve. Plus, not only am I keeping myself healthy by exercising, I'm keeping Teton healthy and happy, too.

I've been blogging about dogs for more than a year now and have acquired a robust portfolio of knowledge surrounding dog behavior, health and training. Here are my tips for introducing your dog to running:

Evaluate Your Situation:
Before starting any exercise regimen with your dog, consult with your physician if you have any health concerns or haven't exercised regularly in a while. Visit your dog's veterinarian, too, for input on whether—based on your dog's medical history—your buddy is capable of starting an exercise routine that includes running. In general, dogs under 1 year of age (and sometimes even older) should not run because their bones are not fully developed. If you have a puppy or dog that isn't quite done growing, hold off on running until your vet gives you the green light.

Mind Your Manners:
Your dog should come readily when called, regardless of your surroundings.

• Confirm that your dog is proficient in the wait, stay, sit, down and leave it commands. Leave it becomes particularly helpful when passing dead rodents, cigarettes and mystery objects that smell deliciously delightful to your dog.

• One behavior that I find particularly important is having your dog sit and wait at a curb, stop sign or traffic light until you give the command that they may continue moving. This allows you to maintain control of your dog when in an unfamiliar situation.

• If your dog has aggressive tendencies, work with them to eliminate undesirable behaviors before you consider walking or running on busy streets and trails. 

Master the Walk:
If you and your dog haven't mastered the art of walking together, you won't be successful at running together. Work with your dog if he or she pulls, refuses to walk, relentlessly sniffs, marks excessively or is easily distracted. Remember that successful walking is you moving at a comfortable place with your dog walking at your side, adjacent to your hip.

Start Small:
When you have determined that your dog is ready to practice running, ease them into it. Don't start, for example, with a 6-mile run around your neighborhood in 95-degree weather. Try to remember your feelings of uneasiness and exhaustion when you first started running, and respect that your dog is new to this sport.

When I introduced Teton to running, we first incorporated 3 minute intervals of jogging in our daily walks. Once we found our cadence and I was confident in his ability to run for longer periods of time, we upped those intervals. Go at your dog's pace and don't hesitate to shorten your running intervals if your dog seems fatigued or uncomfortable.

Know Your Surroundings:
If it's your first time out, don't take your dog to an unfamiliar location. It's best to start your dog running in your neighborhood, on the local community track or even on your own property if space allows. This will minimize distraction and allow both you and your dog to focus on the run. 

Respect the Rules: 
Introducing your dog to running on your community track is a great idea, especially if it's outside of school hours and not crowded. However, know and respect the rules in your community and on trails before you bring your dog along. Many places enforce "No Dogs Allowed" rules, so research before you run. 


Running gear for both you and your dog can make or break your workouts.

For more information please click the link above.

Bring a Buddy :
If you have a friend whose dog is an experienced runner and is compatible with your dog, invite them along for a run. Having a running buddy can provide that extra oomph that both you and your dog may, at times, need.

Honor/Accept Your Dog's Limitations (and Your Own)

After a few months of running with your dog, you'll have a better idea of what his or her limitations are. If your dog is unable to run more than a few miles, that's okay. Maintain your running schedule and offer lots of praise when your dog successfully completes a run. Just as you would work on increasing your own mileage as a runner, you can help your dog do the same.

I know a handful of people whose dogs could easily outrun them. If this is you, accept your own limitations just as you would accept your dog's. Don't push yourself to run longer than your body can handle.

Acknowledge Your Dog's Strengths:
Is your dog particularly good at running on trails? Maybe he or she flourishes when you run together on the beach. Or maybe your dog is really great at listening to and acting on your commands when you're out on the road together. Whatever your dog's strengths may be, acknowledge and reward them. Consider that rewarding your dog doesn't have to mean that you give treats. My dog, Teton, is more motivated by praise and petting than by food.

No comments: