Being active with your dog not only helps keep them healthy and well-conditioned, but it also helps nurture the bond between you both. Running with your dog enables them to be mentally stimulated by their environment and burn off the energy that some owners find difficult to exhaust.
If you are considering giving running a go, we advise you to review these recommendations first:
How old is your dog? We advise against extended running with your dog until they are over a year old. Some breeds we recommend an even later start. The impact of running can affect the growth and development of joints and tendons. Talk to your veterinarian to see if they foresee any health concerns before starting a running regimen, or if you have any other questions or concerns.
Start off with a brisk walk before beginning your run – this will warm both of you up, and may also allow your pet to get their washroom duties done prior to the actual run. This idea also applies to when you are finishing up your run – cool down.
Try to avoid running on concrete. The impact of concrete is hard on both of your joints and your dogs. Dogs don’t have high-impact road running shoes on like their human. The concrete can also wreak havoc on the pads, especially in the summer when concrete is hot.
If your dog is a leash puller, we would recommend the use of a harness as opposed to a flat or choke collar. There are many different set-ups available to fit both you and your dog. Wearing a canicross-specific belt that connects to your dog and harness will also allow you to have more hands-free movement to enjoy your run as well.
Dogs generally, unless they are trained specifically, are not long-distance runners. Starting with a couple of kilometres is a great way to get the wheels in motion. 5k runs are usually where most humans and dogs find their happy place together.
Be aware of how the heat may affect your dog more than you’re aware. Provide water in small amounts throughout the run, and after the run. We recommend that small frequent access to water is given after the run. Do not allow your pet to gulp down an entire bucket of water a short of a period.
Do not feed your dog right before a run, or immediately after a run. An excess of food, with the addition of water, can cause serious health issues if consumed too close and will be strenuous on physical activity.
Running with your dog with a harness can also be a great springboard to trying skijoring (skiing with your dog) or snowshoeing! Oh, the places you will go!
Do your homework and get out there! Being active will make for a happy dog.
Written by: Roberta Ronald, RVT