There are so many benefits to running with your dog. First, it’s healthy for both of you. Second, it’s a sure fire way to bond with each other. Third, It’ll tire out your dog like nothing else. Fourth, if you need some motivation to run a little farther, or push a little harder, your dog is a great workout partner.
For those of you in winter-laden areas, spring is just around the corner. This is a perfect time for you and your dog to entertain the idea of becoming running partners. But before you strap on your running shoes, there are some things to consider to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, or your dog, when you hit the pavement.
Tips to help you run safely, and happily, with your dog
- Don’t start too young. Dogs’ bones need time to grow and set, so if you intend on doing long-distance running with your dogs, it’s best to wait until their bones have matured. You could start running with some smaller breeds at around 6 months, while with larger breeds it’s best to wait until they’re at least one.
- Get to the vet. While many of us don’t seek the advice of our doctors before engaging in specific exercise routines, we ought to. And the same goes with your dog’s vet. Letting your vet know that you want to run with your dog will cue the vet to pay special attention to your dog’s heart, joints, and other areas.
- Build up distance. You wouldn’t go out and run 10 miles on your first trek, would you? Just because you’re ready for that distance now, doesn’t mean your dog is. Let him build up to longer distances, so that his muscles, and paws, and get accustomed.
- Pamper the pads. Those dog pads are amazing things. They can take a beating like nothing else. But they’re not indestructible. If you choose to run on pavement (trails are a better alternative), this rough terrain can tear up your dog’s paw pads. Inspect your dog’s pads after each run for cuts, glass, etc.
- Be prepared. Bring a collapsible water bowl (and water) for your dog. Bring protein/carb-rich treats. And yes, bring poop bags. This may sound like a lot of “stuff,” but one way around it is to have your dog carry his load. Dog running gear like the Singletrack Pack by Ruffwear, allows your dog to carry its own water, as well as some of other light essentials. Note: keep the pack as light as possible for your dog’s safety.
- Avoid retractable leashes. Keep your dog on a 3 – 6 foot leash.
- Know your dog’s limits. If you have a chihuahua, don’t go on a run with him. He’s not made for that kind of work. Also, if you’re dog is older than 7, consider slowing down the runs, making them shorter, and, eventually, hanging up the running shoes (for your dog, of course).
- Look out for signs of trouble. Be aware of your dog’s behavior. If your dog begins panting, slowing down, foaming, or has glazed eyes, this may be a sign of overheating or some other health issue. Immediately stop the run, cool your dog down (with shade and water), and if the problem persists, go to a vet.
Some dog races across the country
Not every formal race in the country is suited for dogs. In fact, most of these races forbid pets (because of insurance issues, etc.). Therefore, it’s important that you find races that are specifically designed and created with your four-legged friend in mind. Below are some races in 2013 that you could sign up for. If you don’t find a race near your home, consider starting one up!
- March 10, 2013 — Walk Run Wag 5K9 San Antonio, TX
- March 16, 2013 — Dog Jog 5K Run Richmond, VA
- March 16, 2013 — 13th Annual Run with the DogsDestin, FL
- March 16, 2013 — 6th Annual Dawg Trot 5k Run/Walk Athens, GA
- April 13, 2013 — Pawz Too Run Davidson, NC
- April 27, 2013 — 5k9 Bark in the Park Manchester, NJ
- April 28, 2013 — 5k9 Walk Run Atlanta, GA
- May 11, 2013 — 5k Walk Run, Austin, TX
- May 18, 2013 — Dog Jog 5K Run Walk Exton, PA
- May 19, 2013 — Cheshire Sea Dog Road Races Cheshire, CT
- May 19, 2013 — Hair of the Dog 5K Robbinsville, NJ
- May 25, 2013 — Pet Promise Rescue Run Columbus, OH
- June 2, 2013 — Tenefly 5K Run and Dog Walk Tenefly, NJ
- June 9, 2012 — Dash for the Dogs Barrington, IL (not scheduled yet for 2013)
- June 8, 2013 — Dog Day 5K Minneapolis, MN
- June 30, 2013 — K9 5K Trail Run Falmouth, MA
- August 2, 2013 — Lost Dog 5K Series Arlington, VA
- August 9, 2013 — Lost Dog 5K Series Arlington, VA
- August 16, 2013 — Lost Dog 5K Series Arlington, VA
- August 23, 2013 — Lost Dog 5K Series Arlington, VA
- August 25, 2012 — Run Like A Dog Olympia, WA (not scheduled yet for 2013)