Running with Connor has become one of the highlights of my day! The one on one time together has made our bond closer than ever and I feel like a better dog parent when I know he is getting the exercise he needs. Running with your dog can be one of the most rewarding activities you can do together. But only if it is done right. Done wrong it can end in frustration or worse! An injured pet or owner. Following the five simple tips below will quickly show you how to enjoy running with your dog.
How To Enjoy Running With Your Dog
Keep your Dog’s abilities in mind – It’s unlikely that you went out and ran 10 miles on your first day. Dogs have pretty good innate stamina but even they have to build up muscles to run safely. If you have been running for a long time and now want to bring your dog with you, start with shorter, slower runs. If you are both starting out together, Great! You can build up speed and distance as a pair. That’s how Connor and I have done it and it has worked out wonderfully. You can read about my start to running here – Road to a 5k
You should also keep your Dogs breed in mind. Not all dog breeds are created equal when it comes to running. Giant dog breeds like Great Danes, should not start hard running until they are fully grown or you run the risk of damaging still growing bones. Many smaller breeds are just not suited to long distances and prone to overheating, especially those with squished facial features such as Pugs.
Know your Route – If you plan on running through your neighborhood it might be best to do a bit of scouting first. Is there a house around the corner whose dog is often running loose? Unless you know the neighbor dog and your dog are friends it might be best to avoid that road. Is there a place in your neighborhood where people like to throw trash on the ground? Break bottles or leave food behind? It might be best to avoid that spot too. The last thing you need is a cut paw or your dog eating something he shouldn’t!
Knowing your neighborhood well can make running with your dog a lot easier. Connor is afraid of large trucks, so we avoid running on Fridays until the garbage truck is gone. Knowing which roads are safe and problem free took a lot of stress out of our runs and allowed us to enjoy our time together.
Use the Correct Equipment – Never run with your dog free. I just can’t stress this enough! Unless you are jogging in a fully enclosed dog park (which seems like it would be problematic) always have your dog on a leash. Because Connor is a hunting breed with a fairly strong chase drive I like to use a Gentle Leader. Gentle Leaders are great for any dog prone to pulling. When Connor was young I tried many of the no-pull harnesses available only to find they hardly worked. Even worse he was capable of jerking me sideways if he lunged unexpectedly – something you don’t want to happen while jogging!
With the Gentle Leader, it is easy to maintain control even if a cat darts in front of us and Connor is still free to pant, drink and eat comfortably.
A Soft leash is also a necessity in my mind, pick one that fits comfortably in your hands and is light and short enough to carry for the duration of your run without becoming an annoyance. Some people advocate the hand’s free leashes. I have never tried them but I think I prefer having more control in case something happens. If you plan on running in the early morning or late evening you might also consider reflective gear.
I like to tie a few knots in my leash at varying intervals. When running I can easily adjust Connors leash length by grabbing the knots and they keep him from being able to pull the leash out of my hand easily.
Pay Attention to the Temperature Outside – You wear shoes when you run. Your dog Does not (although you can buy some if you like)! Here in the south temperatures in the summer months can easily hit the 100’s. Taking Connor running on hot pavement in high temperatures is just asking for him to be burned. If the pavement is too hot for you to walk on barefoot it is too hot for your dog. Adjust your running times accordingly. In the summer Connor and I like to run in the early mornings before the pavement heats up.
Just like us Dog’s also need more water in when working in high temperatures. If it is going to be hot and you are planning a long run you should bring extra water for your dog. They even make great collapsable dog dishes that are easy to carry, clip to a belt or even to your dog’s leash.
If you live in the North I have heard that the salt and ice on winter roads can also play havoc with a pet’s paw pads so keep that in mind if you plan on winter runs!
Do some Obedience Work beforehand – Connor is in no way a highly trained creature. He doesn’t have a full complement of tricks he can do on command. BUT… he does know the basics. He can sit, stay, lay down and comes on command. He knows what ‘leave it’ means and for the most part is content to trot beside me without pulling.
Running with your dog before you have built up the basic commands is an exercise in frustration. Running is exciting to dogs. It tends to naturally get them hyper. Working with your dog on basic obedience will give you more ability to control them even when they are excited. Being able to refocus your dog’s attention on you if something happens can be lifesaving. If your leash breaks while on a run you will be glad that you spent time on obedience training.
With all of that said…
Running with dogs truly is an amazing experience. They make the greatest running partners and are always up for another run. Seeing Connor get excited about our runs makes me excited for our runs and that motivation is truly wonderful to have. Run with your dog safely, following the tips above and you too will come to love it like we did!
Have you tried running with your dog? Comment below with any tips or questions you might have!