I obviously love running – no surprise there. A little over a year ago when Marcus and I were trying to decide on the type of dog that we wanted to add to our family, I really only had 2 requests:
- She had to be a big dog
- She had to be a runner
Those two requirements were really the only ones that were on the table. Luckily, a friend of a friend mentioned there were puppies being given away, and we jumped at the chance when we found out they were golden retrievers mixes – aka, great running (and family) dogs.
A question I have had plenty of people ask me was whether or not she runs with me. Of course I wanted her to right away, but I would have to wait a bit. Now that she is a bit older, she runs with me all of the time. Here are 6 Tips for running with your dog – once they are ready.
Find The Right Leash
My dog, Winnie, is a puller on the leash. We have tried so many different approaches, and found our perfect solution. The gentle leader is the only one that will work for us, and let me tell you – it works wonders. I used to get back from walks and have an aching arm and hand, just from attempting to control her. The gentle leader is completely different. She isn’t able to pull from the strongest part of her body (her chest), and can be very easily corrected, by just the flick of the wrist. I know it sounds dramatic, but this leash has changed my life when it comes to her. I wouldn’t be able to run with her, let alone comfortably walk, without the leash. Seriously. Find the leash that is right for you and your dog. It may take a bit of trial and error, but you will find it!
Wait Until They Are Ready
Far too many times, I see people running with puppies when they are way too young. Of course, puppies want to run and have fun. That is perfectly ok. But on organized, on leash run when they are still only a few months old – not a good idea. Veterinarians recommend waiting at least 8-12 months before running dogs long distances. The reason for this? Their growth plates have not finished fusing yet, and you could put the animal at serious risk for problems down the road. Take them to the park to play and socialize them with other dogs. That is the only running they need to be doing until they are a bit older.
I started running with Winnie when she was right at a year old. She comes in around 80 lbs, so I wasn’t concerned about waiting too long to run her. Large breeds are recommended to wait until around 16 months, but by vet standards, Winnie isn’t a large dog. 80 lbs seems large to me, but they are referring more so to the 120ish lb animals.
Ease Them Into It
Just like humans, dogs can’t be expected to just get out and run mile after mile without easing into it. When you first start running with your dog, take them for a half mile or so, and see how they do. It may take them that long just to get used to being on a leash and running at the same time. Try not to forget, just like people, some dogs just aren’t natural runners. Check out this list from Runner’s World on dogs that make good running buddies.
Watch the Temperatures
Dogs can not regulate their body temperatures as well as people can, so be careful taking them out in too hot of weather, especially mid day. They soak up an extreme amount of heat through their paws, which is obviously a huge issue if the sun has been baking the pavement all day. The same goes for cold weather too, especially places that ice accumulates on the side-walk. Salt is very bad when it comes in contact with dog’s paws. Be sure to wash them off every time you come back from outside. Read more on that here.
The first time that I ever ran with Winnie, it was quite the site, I’m sure. She was a jumping bean, and didn’t understand that her leash wasn’t for a speedy game of tug-o-war. I was very patient with her, and corrected her each time she decided that she was going to dictate the run. She got used to it pretty quickly – she was easy to run with after about a week of consistent training.
Look out where you are going
Along with being patient, it is very important to look where you are going when running with your dog. Since they are not used to necessarily running in a straight line, a small veer of course could mean tripping you and causing:
2. a possible injury
I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want either of those things (especially not the injury!) Just stick to one side of your body or the other, and don’t let them switch sides. I both walk and run with Winnie on my right side. Now, she won’t even attempt to go over to the left side. Consistency is definitely key!
Do you run with your dog? What tips can you share with the rest of us to make the most out of running with your furry friend?