What do many dogs do when they are free to roam unleashed? More or less what children do: they run! Observing dogs free to move and run raises the question in any runner, “What if we went running together?”
The good news is that you can do it: with proper care and with respect for its pace and needs, running with dogs can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience for both of you.
It is important to do so by following a few tips that allow to respect for his constitution, health and running disposition. In fact, not all breeds are suitable for running, and not all ages are ideal for prolonged efforts. But let’s look at everything in detail.
Which breeds are most predisposed to running
Let’s start at the beginning, and we do so by asking a question: does your dog belong to a breed that is predisposed to running?
Generally speaking, if your dog belongs to those breeds with flattened noses, such as the pug or Shih Tzu, it is best to avoid running: the conformation of their noses prevents them from breathing deeply enough, and they may therefore wheeze or worse.
Medium sizes, especially those with long legs, such as the poodle, Labrador or Dalmatian are suitable for running, partly because they have short coats and thus can tolerate heat better. Long-haired dogs such as huskies or collies are also capable of excellent athletic performance because they are genetically predisposed to pulling sleds (in the former case) or tending sheep flocks (in the latter case).
Another important factor to consider is your dog’s age: since in his early years his musculoskeletal system is not yet fully formed, it is best to avoid prolonged exertion. Similar if he is too old, for obviously opposite reasons, that is, not to strain his cardiovascular system too much.
Finally, if you want be absolutely sure, we recommend a visit to your trusted veterinarian, at least to know that your beloved dog does not have any disease that could be exacerbated or degenerate with physical exertion.
The most important thing is the proper leash. In you can find many even at low prices. The main difference from the walking leash is that instead of holding it in your hand or turning it over your wrist, the one you need to run with your dog must leave your hands and arms free to move. That’s why the running ones fasten around your torso and allow the dog to follow you or go ahead of you, but always leaving your arms free and preventing you from stumbling.
What is on the other end of the leash attached to your dog? That’s right: either the harness or the collar . What to choose? It depends on how you feel best: some prefer the harness, others the collar. All that remains is to try.
Finally: use a light backpack to carry-aside from any gels or energy bars for you-also a few of his favorite snacks. For both, never forget the water. Unless you encounter drinking fountains along the way, and the longer the distance you plan to go, the more often you will have to drink.
What’s true for dogs is also true for us humans: when we start running steadily and for long distances, we don’t do it overnight. They, too, need an adjustment period, just as we do.
Before he even starts, it is essential that he understands the commands and is disciplined on the leash: he must not pull and must not freeze or change direction at will. Above all, he must understand stop, forward and rest commands.
Then start doing 10-15 minute jogs on a limited route and then increase the mileage from workout to workout and from week to week, so that little by little he can get used to it.
One last thing (maybe two)
Keep in mind that no dog can run a full marathon, but many dogs can be perfect running companions. For this to happen you have to respect hi abilities and predispositions and understand what is the limit beyond which he cannot go.
Finally, consider that dogs do not have an efficient thermoregulation system like ours, so they are very sensitive to heat. As if fur is not enough, in short, disposing of excessive heat is a problem for them. That’s why it’s best to avoid running with them in hot weather, and in case you feel like they are suffering from the high temperatures, remember that the quickest way to cool them down is to soak their paws in cool water.
Ready to run with your best friend? He’s waiting for you :)