One of the best ways to stick to a fitness routine is to enlist a partner to keep you accountable. While some friends may moan and groan and make excuses, there is one who will always be loyal to your running schedule.
But before you start off running with your K-9 friend, there are some tips you should know before you hit the trail.
Before getting into the best tips for running with your dog, there are some breeds that are better for a fitness regimen than others. If you want to run and exercise with your dog, you most likely have longer distances in mind. While mini pups may be cute and cuddly, they are just not cut out to be your running partner. If you have a breed like a shepherd, retriever, terrier or another working dog, they will be better fitness friends to go along with you during your run.
Check with your vet- Before you start bringing your four legged friends with you down the road, take them in for a checkup to make sure they’re healthy enough to embark on your exercise program. Because your dog can’t complain, you never know if they have an underlying health issue that you should address. Tell your vet you plan to run with your dog, so they pay attention to things like their heart, lungs, and joints.
Know your dog- You live with them and take care of them, so you most likely have a good grasp on your dog’s personality. Take into account how they handle, interact with other people and animals, the amount of energy they have, and how accustomed to being walked/ran by you they are.
Stay on the leash- Even the most well-trained dogs can act unpredictably when an unfamiliar situation arises. Protect your pet, and others, by always leashing your dog and keeping them close to you. Always having control over your dog will allow you to guide and protect them, as well as others on the road.
Make it routine- Dogs respond very well to having a routine, and this is also a great way to hold yourself accountable to getting out for some exercise. When your pup is sitting by the door waiting for his evening run, you will be much less likely to skip your fitness for the day because someone else is relying on you. Because your dog can’t just be thrown into running as far as you can, you will want to build up the distance and duration gradually. Any run will benefit your dogs, and your own, cardiovascular system, but start with shorter runs, slowly building up to take them along with you on multiple miles.
Hydration is key- As with any exercise routine, your dog will also need to stay hydrated when running, possibly even more than you. Make sure your dog has some water before you go out for a run, and if you plan on going long distances, keeping a water bottle with you is a good idea. Pay attention to the weather and avoid long runs on very hot days. Also, make sure you don’t let your dog drink from puddles that be contaminated with harmful toxins.
Watch the paws- You’re wearing shoes, but your dog is not so you have to be careful with things like hot asphalt, sharp rocks, broken glass and other things that could hurt their delicate foot pads. If your dog starts limping, licking his paws or looking uncomfortable in any way, stop running and inspect their feet.
Obey the rules- The number one rule of dog etiquette is to be prepared for inevitable bathroom breaks. It is the law to pick up after your pets, so always have a plastic bag with you. Also, pay attention to signs about leashing your dog, hours in parks and on trails, and where your pet is allowed to be.
Be observant- You never want to put yourself or your dog in danger, so always be aware of your surroundings as well as the way your pet is acting. There are dangers everywhere, so run in neighborhoods that are familiar to you, carry a few treats and a cell phone with you, and be aware enough to recognize potential problems. Always be aware of how your dog is acting as well. If they begin panting, foaming at the mouth or slowing down, these are signs that you need to take a break for their health.
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