If you enjoy running and you have a dog, chances are you’d like to take your dog along with you for a run every now and then. If you’ve just up and tried it, chances are it hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would. Running with a dog isn’t as easy as some make it seem, but it can be done if you put in the time and effort.
Distance Runs Not For All Dogs
Before you decide to start taking your dog for a run, make sure your dog can handle it. If you have a small dog, running far distances probably isn’t a good idea. It doesn’t take much to tire out a small dog and you don’t want to overwork your dog to the point of illness or danger. In case you didn’t know already, most dogs will continue to run even after they are exhausted simply to please you.
Make sure you understand the signs of a tired and over-exhausted dog and you stop before you do any damage. If your dog is overweight, it’s also not a good idea to run very far. It might seem counterintuitive because exercise can help dogs lose weight, but running with extra weight is bad for dogs’ joints and can put them at risk of injury. Instead of running with your overweight dog, try walking regularly. Once they have lost some weight and are back to a more normal weight, you can begin running with them.
If you have a medium sized or big dog with a lot of energy, it’s probably a great idea to take your dog for a long run. Shepherds, pit bulls, border collies, and other high energy dogs make great running partners once you have trained them properly. Not only does it help you get in your daily exercise, but it can help keep your dog fit and healthy while also ridding them of any excess energy that may result in destructive behavior.
How to Begin
An important part of training your dog to run is to start slow. Don’t expect your canine companion to immediately be able to run in a perfect line or keep up with your ten minute mile. At the beginning, only run for short distances and if your dog is sniffing along the way, don’t jerk on his or her leash. Instead, try to redirect their attention back to running using verbal commands. Jerking on their leash, especially if they are wearing just a collar, can cause serious neck damage and is similar to whiplash for people. Always do your best to avoid that.
It might take awhile for your dog to understand what they are supposed to do. Because dogs are so sensitive to smells, it is in their nature to want to stop and investigate. If you reward them with a treat or verbal praise when they ignore distractions and continue to run, you will be able to teach and encourage them to keep running rather than stopping. Over time, you can build up the distance that you run with your dog. Again, start slow at the beginning.
Run half a mile several times before moving up to a mile, and so on. It really can’t be emphasized enough that you pay attention to your dog’s body language to ensure you don’t over-exhaust them. If your dog starts dragging behind or is panting and breathing abnormally, stop running immediately and take them home to have some water. Make sure your dog is keeping pace with you and doesn’t seem like he is struggling to keep up.
Running with your dog is a wonderful, exciting experience. It is rewarding knowing that you are improving both your health and your dog’s health just by spending time together. Make sure you are always aware of your dog’s body language so you know when enough is enough. Besides that, enjoy the training aspect of it. Though it might feel tedious, teaching your dog to run with you will also help you both form a closer bond. Once you’ve got the running straight part down, enjoy building up the distance and soon you and your dog will be thriving together!