Running With Your Dog

Any dog from the herding, sporting or working groups (according to the AKC) may require more exercise than a simple walk can provide. If you’reĀ  a jogger or a runner, your dog may become your perfect running partner. Burning off your dog’s excess “spunk” can lead to a much better behaved pooch.

Before you begin taking your dog along, check with your vet to ensure your dog doesn’t have a heart condition, breathing difficulties, that he doesn’t overheat easily or is too overweight. Even if your dog is healthy, he could experience elbow or hip dysplasia and running will not help these problems.

Prior to beginning the running regimen, your dog should be properly leash trained. He needs to be able to turn and stop with you and run alongside you without running ahead or pulling on the leash. The basic heel command is a definite plus to help keep your dog safe.

If your dog is new to running, work up to your speed and whole routine gradually. Start at a walk/jog combination, keeping the distance short. As your dog grows comfortable, you can increase the distance in small increments and slowly work up to a full jog/run.

Always try to run on soft surfaces (dirt, grass, sand or asphalt) with your dog — concrete can be too jarring. Try to run in the mornings or evenings and in cooler weather. Hot pavement can burn a dog’s paws and lead to heatstroke or dehydration. Include a warm up and a cool down for both you and your dog. On longer runs, take frequent breaks, this will give your dog a much needed water break. Always praise your dog before and after a run. You want him to have fun and to increase your bond. (Dogs love praise — for anything and everything.)

If your dog develops an injury or you start to notice a limp, take him to the vet and avoid exercising until he’s fully recovered.