Thinking of running with your dog?
Running with your dog can be a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle for you both. It is also a great way to develop a good bond between pet and owner. Remember dogs are like people and won’t be comfortable or may injure themselves if they go on a long run without any gradual introduction. So it’s best to start with shorter slower runs and build up following our tips below.
Before you begin…if you are unsure whether your dog is healthy enough to run, be sure to consult your vet for advice before starting running.
Don’t run with dogs until they are skeletally mature, this is around the age of one year old in most dog breeds, but giant breeds should wait until 18 months of age. Running with your dog when they are too young can cause excessive force in developing joints and predispose to joint issues later on in life.
Keep your dog on a lead when running so you can ensure they are safe and close; this is especially important if you are running near traffic. When running with your dog make sure your dog is in a comfortable running harness and not attached to a collar which would cause pressure on the neck and restrict their breathing. Keep them on a shorter lead which you are able to monitor and control whilst running. You should never be so out of breath that you are not able to give commands to your dog.
When starting to run with your dog, gradually build up the distance. Initially a ten-minute run somewhere familiar to your dog at a steady pace would be a good start. You could alternate between running and walking and give you dog breaks if they look like they want to stop or seem out of breath or tired.
Gradually increase the distance you are running by 10% at a time over a number of weeks. Your dog should not be excessively out of breath during the run and if they struggle to recover after the run or seem sore the next day then give them a rest for a week and start again at a shorter distance.
During summer months, do not run in the heat of the day. Run in the early morning or later in the evening when it is cooler. This is especially important in dogs with short muzzles, overweight dogs or dogs with long or thick coats.
Be mindful of the surface you are running your dog on. Sharp rocks or hot tarmac can damage or hurt soft pads. Always check your dog thoroughly after to a run for any injuries, if left they could become infected or worsen.
Carry plenty of water with you for your dog and poo bags so you can pick up their business along the route and it is not left for another pedestrian to tread in!