Running with dogs – what you should know
For dog owners who enjoy a spot of exercise, running with your animal can be a great way to break a sweat and bond at the same time. However, as many dog owners have discovered, the best-laid plans can easily fall by the wayside when there’s a canine companion at your side, and there are a few things you should be mindful of.
Tip #1: Get him socialized first
You’ll need to do some leash training work before you can expect to run together. Teach him some basic commands, and then start slow. A few hundred meters, at a steady pace, so that your dog knows what’s expected of him. One paw in front of the other, with no interruptions. Slowly up the distance in the first year of his life.
Tip #2: Keep the route fresh
While dogs generally love running, you might find is that your dog starts to tire of the route after a while, or approaches the first leg of the journey (i.e., running away from home) without any enthusiasm, only speeding up when the two of you are making your way back home. Chances are they’re bored of the route or suffering from some sort of separation anxiety. Try either driving to the start of the run point or changing up the route on a regular basis.
Tip #3: Watch the distance as your dog gets older
Older dogs are naturally going to have less energy for a vigorous bout of exercise. That said, if you notice that your dog is still keen on catch and fetch but has no appetite for hitting the trails, an underlying condition might be to blame. Get the vet to check him out, as arthritis or heart problems are two possible causes of this.
Tip #4: Bear in mind the temperature
With lots of fur on their bodies and no hardwired sweating mechanism, dogs can’t soak up as much heat as we can. Check the Fahrenheit and adjust the route accordingly.
Tip #5: Get him to poop before the run
This one’s not always possible, but repeatedly having to stop to let your dog heed nature’s call can make for a stop-start experience. Try get into a routine where your dog goes to the toilet before setting off. Also, you want to avoid him struggling along, desperate for the toilet.
Tip #6: Use running as a reward
Reward a dog with a hearty meal after the run. Dogs that need to ‘work’ for their food are typically happier than the sedentary alternative.
How far can you expect to run? Most dogs are comfortable doing 3 miles in warmer temperatures (say, 68 Fahrenheit and above), but this can increase to 6 miles in colder temperatures during winter months.
Remember, active dogs tend to be happier dogs, and it’s very important that they find themselves immersed in a healthy routine. This is doubly true if you own a breed like a Weimaraner or Golden Retriever, which require more exercise than most.