One of the best things about having a dog is that you can have an all-around companion — be it camping, fishing, or running. Yep, you read it right. Your sofa-chewing and mayhem-wreaking dog can be your perfect running mate, provided that you train them well, of course. Running is a type of cardio that benefits man and man’s best friend in ways aplenty. Apart from promoting heart health, running provides therapeutic effects by releasing the happy hormone, dopamine. So if running gives long-lasting good vibes, how much more when your ever-smiling furry pal is beside you, giving you a boost of motivation with just a wag of their tail? What’s more, running is an excellent way to bond with your dog, to keep them entertained, and to prevent a medley of behavioral and medical issues. But even if you have a Siberian Husky who is born to run, it doesn’t mean your pup will just run alongside you that easy.
This article will show you how to make your aspiring furry athlete pound the pavement in sync with you.
Talk to the Doggy Doctor
It is of paramount importance that you have your dog checked so you’ll know if they are up for the challenges linked with running, especially if your dog is already five years old or above. Remember: dogs age fast. Your vet will run some tests to determine whether Dog is starting to experience back pain, joint problems, or arthritis — all of which are associated with aging. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean you should discourage your dog from running. You just need to slow down and reduce the distance. Your vet will also help you create a training plan according to your dog’s temperament and physical abilities. Furthermore, you need to wait until your pudgy puppy reaches one and a half years old as this ensures the growth plates are already closed.
Not All Dogs Are Born to Run
You also need to consider your dog’s breed. Working breeds such as the German Shepherd and the Border Collie are more suited to running. Bullies and pugs, on the other hand, face breathing problems due to their short facial structure; hence, they aren’t fit to run. The same goes for long-backed and short-legged dogs such as the Basset Hound, Chihuahua, and Dachshund. Rigorous exercises could make the bones and ligaments of these small breeds highly susceptible to injury. Nonetheless, you should still keep your dog active regardless of their DNA.
It All Starts with a Walk in the Park
Your dog has to be socialized and well-trained so he can run along with you. Otherwise, you’re at risk for a freak out when they see other creatures or other people. Also, you don’t want your dog running into a busy street or sprint into the woods. To prevent this, your dog needs to master general leash training 101. Your dog should learn to stay calm, to stay focused on its owner, and to be able to obey certain commands. Your pup needs to understand that they shouldn’t stray away or place any stress on the leash. Once they can finally walk calmly by your side, then your dog is ready to tag along for their first run.
Don’t Forget to Warm Up
Running demands more physical exertion compared to walking. Hence, you need to help your canine companion prepare its body just as you would. Ten minutes of brisk walking is a good preliminary to walking. Doing so allows your dog’s muscles and joints to stretch so your dog won’t become injured.
What to Expect During Your First Run
Dogs could either go much faster or lag behind and look distracted. However, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in running. Your dog just has no idea what to do. That is why you need to be consistent with your training. Training your mutt to become a furry athlete takes a lot of guidance and practice. And of course, treats! Young dogs, in particular, will associate running with games at first. If your dog tries to play chase, simply say “no” and stay still. Never show your frustration. Dogs are smart creatures; your actions and facial expressions are easily telegraphed to your dog. Therefore, don’t set high expectations. Forget about running five miles. A five-minute run is already enough as an introduction. From then on, make running with your dog a daily habit and gradually increase the mileage until you reach your projected time. Your dog will adapt to your pace with a little patience and time.
Increase Your Dog’s Stamina
If you want your furry buddy to tag along on serious miles, then condition Dog’s body through strength training. Walking in water or deep sand is a good way to build stamina in dogs. Gradual buildup allows your dog’s muscles and connectives tissue to adapt to the exercise without injury.
Feed Your Dog Right
Up your dog’s protein intake. Protein is the key to build and maintain strong, lean muscles. If your dog receives inadequate protein from its diet, they could suffer a loss of muscle mass. Therefore, choose a protein-rich dog food made with high-quality ingredients. Also, make sure your dog’s food also supplies a good amount of carbohydrates and fat to fuel your furry athlete. Aside from protein, your canine companion also needs antioxidants in its diet. Your dog will be constantly exposed against environmental aggressors and hence, it is important to boost its immunity against common diseases. Cooking hearty meals for your dog is also a good idea. Just make sure it is complete and balanced. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkin are good options you can mix with lean beef, lamb, or chicken. To avoid discomfort while running, feed your dog an hour before you take Dog for a run.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Dogs don’t sweat but they also need as much water as we do. Hence, give your dog water every 15 minutes. However, never offer your dog sports drinks as these beverages cause a medley of digestive problems to your dog. You will also want to bring an easy to use bottle with you for your dog to drink from. This Dog is Good water bottle is leak proof and dog’s love it!
Dogs don’t complain when they are tired or in pain, that is why a majority of dog owners have a difficult time realizing that their furry companion is already struggling. Dogs tend to push themselves beyond their limits just to please their owners. However, doing so is detrimental to your dog’s health. Therefore, you have to be observant. Pay close attention to your pup’s body language. But, how can you tell if your dog is working too hard? For one, your dog’s breathing and tail position should stay the same from beginning to end. If your dog’s tail drops and begins to pant loudly, then that’s a sign that they need a quick break and some water. Heavy panting indicates that their heart rate is increased too high. But if your dog continues to display the same speed and bolt of energy, then you can keep going. If the lagging continues even after a break, then you may need to take your pup home.
Be mindful of your dog’s paws. Your furry athlete doesn’t wear comfy running shoes and hence, their paws could really hurt if the pavement gets hot in summer. Make sure to check the pavement with the palm of your hand before deciding to run. Early morning runs are a good option during summer. Also, pay attention to humidity since dogs are less tolerant of heat than humans. Dogs barely have sweat glands and hence, running in blazing sunshine could cause your dog to overheat and suffer from a heat stroke. Likewise, reduce the mileage for your furry athlete if the temperature is frigid. Your dog could get a frostbite if they’re out too long in the chilly weather.
Watch Out for Running-Induced Pains
Dogs also suffer from sore muscles just like humans. Running-induced aches usually show up two days after your dog’s first run. If your ever-smiling dog has become less enthusiastic and is laying down more instead of goofing around, then they are likely in pain. In this case, grant your furry athlete a break from running. Otherwise, your pup might begin to associate running with pain. If your dog’s behavioral changes continue, it is best to have your dog checked.
Choose a Chest Harness Over a Collar
A chest harness is more suited for your furry as it prevents choking. If you want to run with free hands, get a cross-body leash or a belly strap for your dog’s harness. Choose one that has a reflective strip for better visibility at night.
Dogs’ love for running stems from their ancestry as hunting and herding animals. Plus, they have energy levels that will never match yours. So, why not ask your goofy dog to be your workout buddy? If you invest enough time and effort to train them, they will surely become your best workout partner ever! Since the more the merrier, ask your friends to tag along as well. Browse for fabulous gifts for dog lovers from Dog is Good, such as the Never Run Alone gear and give it to them as a token of appreciation for joining your little club. There is also apparel for dog lovers available so you can either run in style or simply show what a proud fur-parent you are.
Written by Brian Morgan