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If you’d like to start running with your dog, or are already taking your dog along with you during your runs, read on for some tips to keep you both safe and healthy.
Your dog needs to train, too!
Before you head out on a long run with your dog for the first time, consider this: dogs need to ease into a running routine just as much as humans do. Considering the fitness level of your dog is crucial for preventing injuries. If your dog is out of shape and doesn’t get much exercise, consider starting with walk/jog intervals to get their heart and muscles used to the increased workload. Gradually increasing your dog’s mileage in a structured routine, such as this “Couch to 5k” running plan, doggy edition can help prevent injuries from overtraining.
Consider your dog’s joint health
If your dog is overweight, running will put more stress on their joints and potentially lead to soreness and injury. Get your dog into shape gradually by doing low-impact exercise and cutting back on food portions if needed.
Certain breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, which can be very painful and may even require surgery in extreme cases. Breeds such as bulldogs, mastiffs, retrievers and Rottweilers are more prone to hip dysplasia, so running long distances with them often isn’t recommended. To be sure, check with your vet before starting to run with your dog if you think they may have pre-existing joint problems or are prone to injury.
Do a weather check
If you plan to run during the hotter months, remember that your dog can become dehydrated quickly while exercising. Run near areas with water, such as a river, or consider carrying a collapsible water dish that you can refill with your own water stash.
If you’re running on pavement during warmer weather, keep in mind that your dog’s paws can get scorched by the hot asphalt. This image helps as a reminder of how quickly pavement can heat up - at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, asphalt can be as hot as 125 degrees Fahrenheit!
To avoid scorching your dog’s paw pads, run in the cooler hours of the day such as the early morning, or run in an area that has grass or another surface that doesn't get overly-heated by the sun.
Be street smart
If you plan to run near traffic, consider these tips to keep you both safe:
Keep your dog on a leash. If your dog is tempted by a squirrel or another distraction, the last thing you want is for them to bolt across traffic. Many runners enjoy hands-free leashes for running, such as this one.
Dog afraid of cars? If your dog shies away from cars, it’s probably the safest to have them be furthest away from traffic. If they are between you and traffic (on your right side when running on the left side of the road), they could bolt into you and knock you down if they’re scared by a passing vehicle.
Illuminate! If you’ll be running around dusk or dawn around traffic, invest in reflective running gear for both of you.
When nature calls
Let your dog go to the bathroom before you head out on your run, and give them the opportunity to relieve themselves every so often during longer runs. If you’re running in an area that other people also enjoy, be courteous and carry doggy waste bags with you and clean up any messes your dog leaves behind!
If you’re ready to sign up for a race, your dog doesn’t necessarily have to sit it out; check to see if your particular event is dog-friendly! The beauty about virtual races is that you can enjoy the competition and structure of a running race without worrying if your dog can come along! Consider our “Anything is PAWsible” event, coming up in Spring 2020.