A Comprehensive Guide To Running With Your Dog
Written By: Ben Mounsey
ARE YOU IN NEED OF SOME EXTRA RUNNING MOTIVATION?
Then look no further. Because man’s best friend can also be man’s best training partner.
Our comprehensive guide to running with your dog will provide you with all the information you need, including how to get started, the benefits of training together and the most important ways to look after your dog’s fitness and health.
SO WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF RUNNING WITH YOUR DOG?
There are few things more rewarding in life than gazing into the eyes of a happy dog as they wag their tail with excitement. And exercise is arguably the greatest factor in helping to achieve this state of contentment. Whatever your pace and level of fitness, running with a canine companion will provide you with all the satisfaction and motivation you need to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Unlike us, a dog will never complain, they’re (almost!) always happy to go for a run together and they will even let you choose a time and location that suits you.
Running is the perfect way to keep you both fit and healthy. Regular exercise will not only improve your dog’s health, but also reduce any hyperactivity, burn off excess energy and help to control aggression. Most importantly it will build the relationship and increase the bond between you and your dog. Take great pride in watching them grow and develop into a loving and loyal training companion.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
It’s important to wait until your dog is fully grown before attempting any serious exercise together. Always be sensible with distance and gradually build up their fitness. Learn how to understand and communicate with your dog – reading their body language is the greatest indicator to reveal their true feelings. Like all humans, dogs will have good and bad days so it’s vital to learn how to read the signs. You will know when they’re desperate to go out for a walk or a run, as it’s impossible for a dog to contain their excitement. Equally, they will tell you when they need some rest, so respond accordingly to any obvious signs of anxiousness or fatigue.
RUN REGULAR HEALTH CHECKS
Not all dogs are suited to running, some may even have medical conditions, so therefore it’s best to seek advice from your vet especially if you in any doubt. They can assess the fitness and condition of your dog by examining their size, health and weight. Recommendations for exercise can also be provided based on the breed and age of your dog. Always carry your vet’s number when running just in case of emergency e.g. a serious injury or sudden health issue.
SUPPLY THEM WITH THE FOOD OF THE DOGS
Give your dog good quality food in order to help keep them fit, healthy and fuelled for exercise. Help them to prepare in the same way that you would prepare yourself. Therefore, consider when you feed them, allowing enough time after eating before going for a run. Don’t forget to carry and use doggy bags, ideally made from biodegradable material. Always clean up after your dog and dispose of the bags appropriately.
WATCH OUT FOR TICK SEASON
Remember to regularly check your dog for ticks, especially if you are running through wooded areas, long grass or dense vegetation. Ticks can carry lyme disease and there is always a higher risk of picking up these unwanted guests during tick season, which typically runs from April through to September. Don’t forget to check yourself in the process, paying particular attention to your arms and legs. It’s best to remove them as quickly as possible and if a bite does become infected then seek the expert advice of a vet or medical professional.
MAKE SURE TO RUN SENSIBLY
Dogs will happily run in all types of weather conditions, so as responsible owners we must make sensible decisions on their behalf. Be mindful when running in heat and avoid exercising completely during extreme temperatures. Ensure that there is water available on route, or carry some with you in a hydration pack or them to drink. A safe visit to a stream or river during a run will always be a welcome retreat, particularly on a warm day.
STAY ON PAW PATROL
Clean your dog’s paws after every run, carefully checking for any injuries. Try and choose dog-friendly routes, which includes running on as much soft ground as possible. This type of terrain will be kinder to your dog’s paws and help to minimise any long-term damage to bones and joints. Try and avoid running on hard surfaces like asphalt for extended periods of time.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Always keep dogs on a lead when running near livestock and respect the countryside code. Avoid passing through fields where there are cows and never cross if they are with calves, as it can be extremely dangerous. Seek an alternative route and minimise the risks.
Invest in a good quality lead or harness for your dog - it’s no different to you buying a new pair of running shoes! Regularly check the condition of your equipment and replace whenever necessary. Check out Ruffwear for an extensive choice of practical dog related accessories, all specifically designed for exercise.
TRAIN & COMPETE
Your dog can be the perfect training companion in the build up to a short or medium distance race. Alternatively, you can compete together as partners in the globally recognised sport of Canicross. Trailrunners is the biggest online community for CaniSports and will provide you with all the information and advice you need, including handy training guides and a detailed race calendar.
A DOG IS FOR LIFE…
Owning a dog is a huge commitment and takes great responsibility. However, if you have the necessary time, energy and love to give, it can be one of life’s most fulfilling and rewarding experiences. It’s a big wide world out there and who better to explore it with than your favourite canine companion.
If you’re hoping to head out on the trail with your four-legged friend, check out our Trail Running Hub for even more advice, inspiration and kit recommendations.
Image Credit: unsplash.com