Dogs make excellent running partners. They will never miss a run, make excuses, whine about an injury, make fun of your form, brag about their personal best or scoff at your jokes.
Before you begin, be proactive to ensure you and your dog are both cleared to run. Talk to your doctor about your running plans, and take your dog to the vet for a check-up. Make sure your dog’s inoculations are up to date and you have a valid license in accordance with the local laws. The vet may also be able to provide advice on how much exertion your dog can handle. Hounds and hunting dogs are enthusiastic runners, but other breeds (such as pugs) are not built for long distances.
Your dog’s age also plays a role. Puppies, like young children, should not run long distances without a gradual build-up in their conditioning. Older dogs may not have the same ability to run as long or as fast as they once did. Dogs don’t wear heart-rate monitors and can’t tell you how they’re feeling, so make sure you monitor their effort to avoid exhaustion.
Proper hydration is important both for you and your dog. Take fresh, clean water along for him to drink at regular intervals and discourage drinking from contaminated outdoor water.
To protect your dog’s feet, keep an eye out for broken glass or sharp pebbles on your route. In the winter, watch for snow and ice in your buddy’s paws, and avoid hot pavement in the summer. Take note if your dog starts to lick his paws after or during a run. Inspect and wash his feet if you have reason for concern. Keep his toenails trimmed before each run.
Dogs that are obedient and cooperative are well-suited to join group runs. Keep your dog under control and teach him that this isn’t just playtime. If running on a trail or in a park, watch for nearby dogs, rabbits and other distractions that might cause your dog to take off on a wild tangent. There may be some areas where he can run free and others where it may be practical or required to be on a leash. Do your research in advance and consider everyone’s safety when planning your route. As always, clean up any messes he makes.
If necessary, invest in some professional training lessons to make running safe and stress-free for all. Follow the rules of conduct in parks, on city streets and along community trails. Respect the enjoyment of everyone in a shared environment. Both you and your dog will reap the benefits of the time spent outdoors. The best part is, you have a running buddy who will never say no to a run.