For those of us runners who also happen to be dog owners, it’s pretty common to feel an urge to share the trail with our furry friends. It only makes sense – we love to run and we love our pets, so why not bring the two together? But before you lace up and grab the leash, here are a few tips to have a safe and healthy run with your canine companion.
Breed: Let’s face it – not all dogs are meant for running. As much as you might love your Bulldog, for example, taking him on a ten mile loop wouldn’t be the best idea. Before bringing Fido out on your next run, check for common health problems in the breed, like hip dysplasia or heart difficulty, which would be aggravated by running. To be safe, it’s also wise to ask your veterinarian.
Temperament: Depending on your dog’s personality, a run could be either a beautiful bonding experience or a battle in every stride. In most cases, though, you can tell how your dog will be on a run by the way he or she acts on a regular walk. If there’s a lot of pulling, wandering in different directions or other challenging behavior, chances are it’ll only get worse as you increase your pace.
Distance: As much as you may want to share every mile with your pet, your dog may not actually be ready or able to handle as much mileage as you. Just as you had to slowly build up to run longer distances; your dog also needs time and training to get into running shape.
Terrain: With all the comfort of modern shoe designs, it’s easy to forget how rough the ground can be. Certain surfaces like rock or gravel – which may not even leave a mark on your sneakers – can be a real pain for your pet’s paws. A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t run your route barefoot, your dog probably shouldn’t have to either.
Weather: Different weather conditions can spell different dangers for your dog. Icy winter roads treated with salt can do a number on your pet’s paws, and hot, high temperatures can put your dog at risk for dehydration. If you feel like you’re going to have a rough time facing the elements on your own it’s probably best to leave your four legged friend at home.