Not all breeds of dog are equal when it comes to running! The first step is to check whether or not your pet can tolerate moderate exercise for an extended period. Short-legged dogs generally have trouble keeping up with humans - even when you're jogging gently. The same is true for short-nosed dogs, who can often have trouble taking in enough air when they exercise.
Remember: running with a puppy younger than seven months is not recommended. Make sure that your dog's skeleton has reached maturity (which could take up to 20 months for some breeds) before attempting to run with them. Lastly, it's wise to ask your vet to give your dog a check-up and give them the all clear for exercising.
To know: it is not advised to run with a pup less than one year old. Make sure that your pup has reached maturity (which can take up to twenty months for certain breeds) before starting a jog. Finally, it is wise to consult your veterinarian for a check-up and make sure your dog is fit for exercise.
2. Dogs Need A Gradual Start Too
One of the fundamentals of running (for humans) is not to increase your distance too quickly. It's best to let your muscles and tendons get used to the effort gradually, which also reduces the risk of injury. You need to take the same precautions if you've decided to regularly run with your dog.
Start each session with a warm-up that alternates between running and slow jogging. This will give your pet more freedom and the chance to do their business (remember to bring a plastic bag with you and dispose of it in the nearest bin). Next, set a pace that lets your dog keep up with you without working too hard. It's best for them to be pulling on the lead rather than the other way around…
3. Use Forest Paths Rather Than Tarmac Pavements
It's common sense! The best place to run is away from road traffic so that you reduce the risk of having an accident and protect your tendons from the impact of running on tarmac. Running in a natural environment gives your dog more freedom and stimulates their sense of smell. But take a few precautions before letting them off the lead:
- Make sure that your pet follows the basic orders you give them.
- Don't let them get too far away from you (try to keep them in sight at all times so that you can make sure they don't swallow anything…).
- Check that there aren't any young children in the area who might be frightened by your dog.
4. Be Careful And Remain Vigilant
First thing's first: food and drink. Dogs need to drink often, particularly when exercising. It's therefore wise to stop every 15 minutes so that your dog can have a drink. Bring something to pour it into if you haven't taught your dog to drink from a bottle (you could stick the container in a CamelBak). But make sure you don't force your dog to run when it's hot. And don't forget that they aren't wearing shoes! In other words, it's important to check that the temperature of the ground is okay.
When it comes to solid food, try not to feed your dog within an hour before you start exercising. Adapt their diet to suit the amount of exercise they've done by including more protein and calcium. Regularly check that they are not losing – or gaining – weight. If this is the case, ask for your vet's advice and adapt your pet's food intake accordingly.
One final tip: at the end of each run, check that your dog's legs are okay and that they haven't got any cuts (even tiny ones) on their body that could lead to infection.
Last but not least, remember to reward your dog after a good run. They deserve it!
Pay attention to your dog's breathing. If their heart rate doesn't really drop after exercise – and they are out of breath for several minutes – you may have worked them too hard.