A Healthy Framework: Running With Your Dog
Sometimes, a dog owner is already a runner and trains their dog to run with them. Other times, a person becomes a runner in order to provide the type of exercise their canine companion needs. Whatever the case may be, running with your dog can be done the right way or the wrong way (i.e., ineffectively or dangerously). To help you discern between the two, The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital have some helpful tips to keep you and your pup jogging along for years to come.
Before hitting the pavement, it’s worth having your dog checked out. Some breeds simply aren’t cut out for strenuous exercise, while others show enthusiasm for the sport, only to get injured or ill. It’s important to get a clean bill of health prior to running any great distances or on difficult routes.
Also, most younger dogs need to grow up a bit before adding strenuous endurance training to their repertoire.
Can your dog adhere to basic obedience commands? If not, we highly recommend attending basic training classes. Once they can demonstrate a repeated understanding of commands like “leave it,” “heel,” and “come,” you’re one step closer to running with your dog.
Leash training is also paramount to your success. Since the idea is to run with your dog by your side, you certainly want them to be able to remain on leash at your side. Staying focused and on course and not running right in front of you are key to running with your dog.
Consistency is Key
Your dog expects and relies on things being a certain way. If you train them to run on one side of you, stick to that side. Sure, you could shake it up depending on traffic patterns, sidewalks, and directions, but keep in mind that changing the system can result in confusion.
Get Out There
Your first run might be just like your normal walk with a little jogging thrown in. Over time, however, you’ll notice a difference in your dog’s ability and level of acceptance. Increase your distance once your dog seems comfortable.
When running with your dog, be sure to do the following:
- Provide frequent breaks in the shade with cool, fresh water to drink (hint: don’t allow them to drink too fast and inhale air; slow, regular lapping is good).
- Look for signs of exhaustion, such as excessive panting, vomiting, lethargy, and drooling.
- Try to stay relatively close to home, adding longer loops once endurance is built up.
If you turn around on your run, it’s also a good idea to train your dog to acknowledge and demonstrate a U-turn. Use treats and patience during the process.
Running With Your Dog
Like all activities you do together, running with your dog has the potential to be a real bonding experience. Done safely and conscientiously, your dog can become the fittest, happiest, healthiest dog on the block.
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