If you’re looking to keep fit throughout the year, why not tie it in with giving your dog some exercise too? Dogs love to get out and about and they need plenty of exercise, so no matter what the weather, your dog is the best motivation for you to get out of the house and go for a brisk walk or run.
Thinking about combining your dog walk with a run? Find tips on running with a small dog, running with a dog that pulls, as well as how to make your dog run faster, all here in our complete guide to running with your dog.
Running and dogs
You might think to start running with your dog is as easy as putting on your running gear and heading out the door. However, there are a number of things you can and should do, to turn your pooch into the perfect running companion.
Take it slowly
Before training your dog to run alongside you, you should try and master walking with your dog on a loose leash. A dog that regularly pulls on the leash whilst walking can be frustrating, but when jogging or running, a tug on the leash can send you flying.
Bear in mind that when you’re enjoying the great outdoors with your dog, there are plenty of distractions - such as squirrels and birds - that can send your dog shooting off in one direction. Begin your jogging efforts by training your dog to walk with some slack in the leash. Try keeping the lead in a J-shape, and make such to give them treats so they begin to learn that this is the best way to walk.
Pick up the pace
Now that your dog has mastered your walking pace and walking by your side, it’s time to choose your cue word that will tell your dog when it’s time to pick up the pace.
A good way to teach your dog about the cue word and what it means is to add short bursts of running to your walk, using the cue word just before you start to increase your pace. When your dog catches up and keeps up with you, you should give them a treat to reward their behaviour.
A cue word to slow down is just as important as your cue word to start running. This will come in handy if you need a break or when you’re approaching a busy crossing.
Practice makes perfect
Like humans, your dog needs exercise to increase its strength and endurance. When starting out running with your dog, only add in a couple of sprints or short runs to your walks. Then gradually build up the frequency of running intervals on each walk, until your dog becomes fully accustomed to running longer distances.
Looking after your dog on a run
In the same way you would warm up before and cool down after exercising, your dog is no different. Run through some slow warm-ups before setting off, carry plenty of water with you and frequently give them breaks so that they can go to the bathroom if needed.
Exploration is a key part of any dog’s walk, so give them some time to enjoy their surroundings and recharge their batteries whilst you take that much-needed break from running. If you want to let your dog have a run around on their own, only let them off their leash where it is safe and legal to do so and if you know that they respond to your recall. You should also look out for signs that your dog is tiring; they might continue to run to keep you happy but they might also want to stop and walk the rest of the way.
How far can I run with my dog?
Jogging with a puppy might be your idea of heaven, but whilst it’s important that your puppy doesn’t sit around the house all day, running with your puppy is not healthy for them. With their bones still growing, the strains of running can result in your puppy facing difficulties later on in life. Most dogs are able to start running between the ages of 9 and 12 months, however, larger breeds develop and mature at a slower pace.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t start training your puppies in the basics, such as mastering walking alongside you with a loose leash as well as teaching them your stop and go cue words. You should always consult with your vet to find out when your puppy has matured enough to be able to start running longer distances with you.
Running with your dog gear
Anyone running with their dog will know how important it is to make sure their pooch is safe and secure. Whilst letting your dog run off the leash is definitely more fun and comfortable for your dog, it isn’t necessarily the safest way. For safer running with your dog, we’ve highlighted some of our must-have gear when running with your dog below.
Running with a dog harness can help you keep your dog securely by your side, especially if your dog is a puller when it sees another dog, squirrel or bird.
Make sure the harness fits your dog well and whilst it should be secure, it shouldn’t be on too tightly. Many harnesses on sale today have reflective materials on them, allowing for safer runs at night. They also feature clips and pockets where you can put their poo bags, a collapsible bowl and treats.
Dogs and humans aren’t that different in the way that they both burn fat quicker when exercising. This is why it’s important to keep both yourself and your pooch fuelled before and after the run. As well as taking treats to reward your dog when they’re running, you can support your dog on a daily basis, by adding our range of SuperDog vitamins to their daily diet.
A reflective jacket
On a dark winter afternoon or a late summer evening, make sure your dog can be easily seen during their walk. A high visibility jacket or harness for your dog will not only mean you can run with your dog on its leash, but it will keep your dog visible in low light conditions.
A water bottle or bowl
Keeping your dog well hydrated and cool whilst running is important, especially on warm days or if you’re going on a long distance run. Whether your pooch prefers a bottle or a light collapsible travel bowl for a refreshing sip, don’t forget your dog needs water breaks.
When you know what to do and how to run with your dog, it can be a great time to bond with your dog, whilst getting your much-needed exercise too. If you have your own favourite hints and tips on going running with your dog, make sure to leave them in the comments below.
Thinking about getting a dog?
If you’re a keen runner and you’re thinking about getting a dog, it’s important to consider which dogs are suited to running longer distances. Breeds such as pugs and bulldogs can only run short distances, whereas golden retrievers, for example, are more suited to joining you on your daily jog. Find out more about which breeds are more suited to running and long distance exercise with our SuperDogSelectortool.