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9 Tips for Running with Your Dog


Your dog has the potential to be the greatest exercise partner that you ever had. Not only are dogs always ready to spend time with their owners, but they also have more energy than they know what to do with. Before you decide to take your dog out with you on a running session, however, there are a few ideas that you need to be familiar with.

1) Don't assume that your dog is built for running

It's important to consider your dog's health and breed before you take him out for a run. Older dogs can have enough joint problems to be uncomfortable running. Dogs with short legs may have a hard time keeping up, and longer-legged dogs may have hip dysplasia, which is a joint malformation that causes arthritis. If your dog is a pug, bulldog or another flat-faced breed, he might have a low respiratory capacity. As cute as pugs are, running for extended periods of time isn't for them.

2) Talk to your pet's vet

If you aren't completely sure that your dog is able to handle the stress of a good run, all you need to do is to talk to your dog's vet. Even if you're completely sure, your vet may be able to suggest possible dietary changes to help meet the energy needs that come from all the exercise.

3) Don't go on runs if you have a puppy

Hard surfaces can cause a lot of wear and tear to a dog's joints and bones. You need to make sure that your dog's joints are fully developed before you begin to go out on runs together. In general, small dogs like Jack Russell Terriers develop earlier than larger dogs. Ask your vet about whether your dog is old enough to begin running.

4) Take it slow

If you couldn't go from leading a sedentary lifestyle to effortlessly running a mile or two, you mustn't assume that your dog would be able to do it. If your dog hasn't had much exercise, you need to build up gradually over a period of weeks. You'll find dog training plans online that tell you how gradual the pace needs to be for different breeds and ages.

5) Don't forget to warm up

The rules of warming up apply just as much to dogs as they do to humans. Each day, before you pick up the pace with your running, be sure to take in several minutes of slow jogging or fast walking. It is also a good idea to let your dog do his business before you break out into a run. You wouldn't want to stop mid-run so your dog can go.

6) Look for a running trail

Running on concrete or asphalt pavement isn't good for human joints, and it isn't good for dogs. Rather than go running around the neighborhood or the running circuit at the local park, look for a dirt trail to run on. Not only will your dog have a more interesting time with the sights and smells of the natural trail, his joints will be in much better shape for it.

7) Don't forget to train your dog to run with you

Your dog needs to learn what to do when out running with you. You don't want your dog constantly straining at the leash to take off in a different direction. Try to walk your dog on a short leash for practice, and offer treats when he understands.

8) Make sure that your dog stays hydrated

It can be hard to tell when a dog is thirsty. In the beginning, until you learn how much water your dog needs, it should be a good idea to stop for water breaks once every ten minutes. Carry a bottle of water with a dog-compatible spout, and make sure that you don't share a sports drink with your dog.

9) Don't run when it's sweltering

Dogs have thick coats and no sweat glands. This means that they are prone to overheating. It's important to pay attention to how hot your dog is. It's also important to not take your dog out running when the sun has been beating down for a while, heating up the road or trail. You need to test the surface by placing your hand on it for a few seconds. If it's too hot to take, you shouldn't be taking your dog out.

Having a good time running with your dog is mostly about using common sense. Your dog has physical needs just like you do. All you need to do is put yourself in your dog's place and think about how you would feel. For example, you don't want to give your dog treats when he is actually running. Just as with humans, eating and running don't go together for dogs.

This article was written by Arthur G Young for Top Gun Dog Training.

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