Dogs and running almost go hand in hand. If you have an active dog that loves to run, this is a great opportunity for you to incorporate jogging or running into your exercise routine. Just as you take precautions and prepare for your own physical needs before you go out to exercise, you need to take into account all of the needs your dog might have, too.
To start, whenever you begin a new health routine, especially intense exercise like running, you should check with your doctor to make sure you are in good health and there are no underlying conditions to be wary of. The same goes for your dog. Even if your dog appears strong and healthy and willing to leap tall buildings, you will need to make sure he is fit for a running routine -- before you start.
Once your veterinarian has cleared your dog for running or jogging, start out by taking long walks. This will be best for both you and your dog, as your muscles begin building up the necessary energy requirements needed for exercise. Increase the distance and pace of your walk gradually, with short sprints every ten minutes or so. This will build your dog’s endurance while it toughens his food pads.
During the warm weather seasons, especially summer, when the days are hot, schedule your runs in the mornings or evenings, when the temperatures -- and the ground -- are cooler. If you do run in the daytime, try to run on softer surfaces, like grass and dirt, so your dog’s foot pads are not being burned. You can also consider specially designed running booties for dogs, which are made to protect the foot pads from heat and cold, as well as providing traction on slippery surfaces.
Be sure to rest periodically rather than running nonstop for extended periods, and don’t forget that a short walk before and after running will help you and your dog to warm up and cool down, lessening the stress on the muscles and joints.
Supplies for the Run
You will need to have enough water for both you and your dog. It does not have to be a backpack’s worth of supplies; in fact, your dog will probably do well to carry his own supplies in a dog pack that is harnessed to his body. A collapsible bowl, along with a couple of bottles of water can be packed into his backpack, and the added benefit is that dog packs are typically made with reflective strips on them, so that your dog will be visible to motorists. As an added precaution, if you are running at night, you might want to attach blinking lights to your dog’s backpack or collar to make him more visible to motorists.
And don’t forget to pack the dog waste bags! It’s not only common courtesy, in some cities and towns it’s the law.