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Running With Dogs

Posted Dec 09 2008 11:15pm
woman running with her dog

Recruit a four-legged running companion and find fresh motivation to hit the road

WANTED : Early morning or evening running partner. Strong listening skills desired. Upbeat, optimistic approach to life a must. Pluses include willingness to run in any weather, non-judgmental attitude, and a love of squirrels.

Looking for motivation for your runs?

The answer may be lying at your feet. Running with man's (or woman's) best friend can bring new joy to a running routine. It's much easier to motivate yourself to put in a few miles when there's a furry four-legged creature wagging an enthusiastic tail as you lace up your running shoes.

Breed and size are important when choosing a canine running partner. In general, look to larger breeds to accompany you. Bear in mind many herding breeds will see it as their duty to round up all the squirrels in the forest, so make sure your dog is either on a leash or is well trained and will come when called.

Running with your dog provides excellent health benefits for him or her, provided you take a few simple precautions. The first is to start slow. Dogs are like us in that they need a training program to build up strength and stamina. Begin with some easy runs near your home. Once you're sure your dog can keep pace, you can head out for longer runs. However, always check with your veterinarian before starting your dog on a running program. You'll also need to familiarize yourself with the signs of overexertion and how to administer care in case of emergency.

Training your dog to run with you (versus pulling you) is vital for safety reasons. Leash options vary from harnesses to a hands free dog-jogging leash. Running with your dog translates to time spent in the company of someone who loves you and is proud of you, no matter how many (or few miles) you cover.

What more could you ask for in a running partner?

Use these tips to keep your running routine safe for both you and your dog!

  • Check with your veterinarian before starting your dog on any running program.
  • Feed your dog a high nutrient food.
  • Keep toenails trimmed to avoid snagging on twigs or branches.
  • Carry plenty of water and offer to your dog frequently. However, never force him/her to drink.
  • Train your dog to run beside you, preferably on a leash or harness.
  • Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags in case you become separated.
  • Never run in the heat of the day. Dogs dehydrate faster than humans. Early morning or evening runs are best.
  • Asphalt retains heat even after the sun goes down and can burn a dog's feet. Aim for running on dirt trails, which are easier on a dog's pads (not to mention your joints).
  • If jogging at night, wear reflectors. Attach one to your dog's collar so he/she can be seen.
  • You don't like running on a full belly and neither does your dog. Feed your dog after a run.
  • Check paw pads after each run for blisters, tears, or tenderness.
  • Be willing to cut a run short if your dog seems tired or overexerted.
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