Interested in running with your dog? There are some simple dos and don’ts you should follow from the get-go. From having them wear a dog ID collar to maintaining control throughout your run, here are your key pointers to going on a safe, positive run together.
Dos for Running with Your Dog
Get a health checkup
Before you start taking your dog out for runs, you should get their health checked out first. A simple veterinary examination will let your vet properly check your dog’s physical condition. Consider it the sign off prior to exercising with your dog. Your vet will help you determine whether your dog has any underlying conditions that could make running a bad exercise for them, including arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other conditions.
Let them set the pace
Let your dog choose how fast you’ll be running. Don’t let them get worn out by setting a pace they can’t meet. Instead, let them choose how hard they want to run.
Remain in control
Even though you’re giving them control over pacing, remain in control of their leash and direction. Don’t let your dog pull you around. You should still have control over your route.
Get them used to it
Don’t rush into it. You didn’t just start running five-mile runs out of nowhere. Your dog won’t be prepared for it either. Slowly work your way up. Start by incorporating short runs into your daily walks, working up from there.
Use the right leash
The right leash will do you well while out running. Many runners prefer hands-free dog leashes as they make it easy to maintain healthy running form, keeping your hands free for water, food and good posture.
Pick up after your dog
You shouldn’t keep running after your dog poops. Take the time to pick up after them first. Etiquette is always key when it comes to being a dog owner, remaining mindful of the societal norms a dog owner must follow. Picking up after your dog is always one of them.
Have them wear identification
You should also be sure that your dog wears an ID tag. Custom dog tags are your best option, as they’ll allow you to create a customized ID tag for your dog. This is imperative for any owner who wants to guarantee their dog has some sort of protection if they were to ever run off.
Custom ID tags will allow you to add information such as your pet’s name, your cell phone number, your name, any allergies your dog has and a simple statement such as, “I am loved.”
Don’ts of Running with Your Dog
Not too old or too young
You should be mindful of your dog’s age when deciding whether to take them running. Running with a puppy isn’t a good idea, as they’re not fully developed yet. Running can lead to irreversible tissue, tendon and skeletal damage. The same goes for older dogs, but for different reasons. Damage can be done to their skeletal and muscular system due to their age. Instead, stick to light exercising, like playing in the backyard or taking them for a short walk.
Don’t run too hard
Don’t overexert your dog, either. Too hard of a run can be bad for their health, particularly because you may push them to continue running harder than they’re comfortable doing.
Don’t run for too long
Similarly, don’t stress your dog out by running for too long. Long mileage can be harmful to a dog, much the same as running them too hard because it’s a level of exertion they may not be prepared for. Similarly, that increased mileage could do irreversible damage to their body.
Don’t forget water at home
Your dog is bound to get tired after running for long enough. It’s important you bring along water to keep them hydrated. Remember that signs of dehydration don’t look the same as in humans. Signs your dog could use a water break include their tongue hanging out of the side of their mouth, reddened eyes, heavy panting, thick saliva and physical weakness.
Don’t forget your treats
Similarly, you want to be sure you bring along treats to keep your dog’s energy up, while also rewarding them for good behavior during your run. Consider bringing along a mix of treats. These include low-value treats and high-value treats. Low-value treats can be given to your dog when you come to red lights, stop signs, intersections and crosswalks. High-value treats should be given once your run is finished, as it will provide your dog with essential calories and protein, while also giving them positive reinforcement for their good behavior.
Don’t let them be aggressive to others
Make sure your dog is on their best behavior while you’re on the run, too. Your dog shouldn’t be lunging at other runners, passersby and strangers’ dogs. Rather, they should remain by your side throughout your run. Don’t let them wander off whenever they want to, either. Keep them by your side from start to finish.
Don’t forget to warm up
Remember that you can’t just kick into a run, going from zero to 100 mph. Instead, you should move around before you start. This doesn’t mean physically stretching your dog out! But it does mean getting your blood pumping. Hop around together, play over a toy and get them to chase after a treat. Anything that gets their heart rate up is a good way to start.
Don’t run in bad weather
Lastly, be mindful of when you decide to go running. For instance, bad weather is never a good choice, especially if you’re first starting out. It’s good to work with good weather so you can have an enjoyable first run.
When running with your dog, take your time and remember not to rush. Your dog needs as much time getting used to running as you did. Ease them into it and help them learn the joys of running.