April brings warmer weather and everyone – including your four-legged friend – is anxious to get outside. Perhaps you’re even considering a new running routine and taking your pooch with you. What a great idea – dogs can make great running companions! In fact, studies have shown that running with a partner increases your motivation and likelihood of continuing a workout routine.
But before you run off with Fido, take the time to prepare and properly train your dog to provide the optimal experience for both of you. Here are some tips to get started:
Know Your Breed – certain dogs are better suited for running than others. Check out this chart for running breeds in eight categories. Also wait until your dog is full-grown to begin a running routine so their bones have time to mature.
Check With Your Vet - to make sure your dog does not have any health issues and can go the distance.
Leash Your Dog - to keep them under control in unexpected situations and to ensure that your pet keeps pace. Avoid retractable leashes which provide too much distance between you and your dog and can get tangled or jerk you while running.
Build Up Endurance – start by taking them for long walks. Begin your running routine by taking your dog out for 15 to 20 minutes 3 times a week then gradually increase the length of your runs by 5 minutes each week. This is a safe way to build up their endurance and allow time for their pads to toughen up.
Check Their Paws – for cuts, scrapes, or signs of worn down pads. Be aware of the surfaces you are running on and watch for debris. If they start limping or licking their feet – stop running. Try Musher’s Secret which provides safe, natural, non-toxic protection for your dog’s paws in the most extreme conditions. The semi-permeable shield is absorbed into the paws, allowing perspiration to escape through the toes.
Stay Hydrated – by providing plenty of water. This is especially important during warmer weather. If you have a long run planned, it may also be a good idea to bring a few treats along in order to keep your dog’s energy level up.
Monitor Your Dog – during the run. Watch for signs of fatigue, foaming at the mouth, heavy panting or glazed eyes. If your pet slows down or refuses to continue – stop running and allow them to rest.
After The Run – let your dog cool down. Inspect their pads for cuts or soreness (if pads are tender or cracked do not allow them to run with you again until they are healed). If you worked out in a grassy or woodsy area, check their fur for burrs, ticks, and other foreign objects. Make sure to give your pet plenty of water to replenish fluids lost during the workout.
Exercising with your dog is a great way for both of you to strengthen your bond and to get healthier at the same time. Make an effort to properly condition your dog for running and you’ll both look forward to your new routine!
Chuck & Don’s
We Make Pets Happy!