Safe Strategies: What to Know About Running with Your Dog
Running has exploded in popularity in recent decades, and there’s no doubt that this type of regular aerobic exercise brings with it a myriad of health benefits, a sense of accomplishment, and is even fun for some. Your dog may seem like a natural fit as a running partner. After all, they have plenty of energy to burn and love spending time with you.
But running with your dog requires training and an eye on safety. Does your dog have what it takes?
Before You Begin
Before you start running with your dog, you’ll need to make sure they are healthy enough for high-impact exercise. Dogs who are too young or old (puppies under 18 months should not go running, as their bones and joints are not fully developed) are not good candidates for a jog. Flat-nosed breeds, such as bulldogs and pugs, have shortened airways, which could make running difficult or dangerous for them. Stick to a daily walk in this case.
Always bring your dog in for a wellness check prior to beginning any exercise program. Your veterinarian will make sure they are strong enough for running, and that they are up to date on the vaccinations and parasite preventives they need to stay safe outdoors.
Running with Your Dog
You probably wouldn’t appreciate it if someone forced you to run 5 miles after a winter spent curled on the couch with your favorite Netflix series, and your dog likely feels the same. If your dog has never run with you before, start out with shorter distances and work toward building up their tolerance and muscle strength over time. Always begin your run with a warm up, such as a few minutes of brisk walking or slow jogging, to prevent strains or other injury.
Protecting Your Pal
Dogs have a different set of risk factors when it comes to running, and their safety should be a top priority. Here are some important safety considerations when running with your dog:
- An untrained dog is a risk to you, to themselves, and to other runners. Make sure your dog can follow basic commands and is able to walk on a loose leash.
- Stay away from retractable leashes, as they encourage pulling and can be a tripping or entanglement hazard. A standard 4-6 foot leash and a regular collar or harness is sufficient.
- Hot pavement or concrete can burn your dog’s paw pads. Whenever possible, stick to running on dirt or grass, or in shaded areas.
Heat stroke, or dehydration, is a serious concern in warm weather. Keep an eye on your dog for signs of heat stroke both during and after your run, such as excessive drooling, inability to catch their breath, weakness, lethargy, dark red or pale gums, or vomiting. Move your dog to the shade immediately and offer water before calling us for further instructions. Running in the early morning or evening hours on warm days, coupled with plenty of water and rest breaks, can lower your dog’s risk of injury.
Above All, Have Fun!
The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center applaud you for your efforts to provide your dog, and yourself, with all of the wonderful health benefits of regular exercise. Be sure to check out Community Involvement page or like our Facebook page to keep up to date with our dog walk/run events. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or concerns.