Running with your dog is a fabulous way for you to spend quality time together and get you both a bit fitter! Natasha Boydell, Editor of Blue Cross pet charity, has some advice to make it fun and safe for both you and your pooch…
With the London Marathon only a couple of months away, the streets are filling up with runners getting ready for the big day.
You might not fancy 26.2 miles but any running is a great – and cheap – way to keep fit, and it’s not just beneficial for humans.
Many dogs also love accompanying their owner on runs and, with pet obesity a growing problem, what better way to make sure they don’t pile on the pounds?
Plus, it’s always easier to get that motivation to exercise when you’ve got someone coming out with you!
Running with your dog can really help to maintain a healthy lifestyle for you both and strengthen the bond between you.
Things to think about before you and your dog start running
- Speak to your vet before you start training to get the all clear – this is particularly essential if your dog is older or overweight.
- If your dog is unfit, run at their pace, make time for lots of breaks, give them plenty to drink and gradually increase your distance and speed.
- Make sure you have enough water with you. You can buy camel packs (designed for running) that hold up to three litres and folding dog bowls.
- Take it easy at first and build up slowly. Alternate between walking and running, and run for short distances initially.
- As with any new exercise programme, if you’re new to running then have a chat with your doctor before you get started.
Staying safe when running with your dog
Younger dogs shouldn’t be given excessive exercise. Their bones are still growing, and, if put under too much stress, they may experience complications later in life. Speak to your vet for the recommended level of exercise for your dog’s breed.
Don’t train for long distances during hot weather. Heat exhaustion can kill and, while you might feel that it’s time to stop, your dog will run until they drop.
Be particularly careful with dogs that have short muzzles, are overweight or have long coats. Watch your dog’s behaviour for half an hour after your run – this is the most critical time to watch for signs that your dog is overheating.
Dogs don’t have the advantage of our flashy hi-tech trainers, so if you’re running on tarmac they could be prone to impact injuries, plus it can be very abrasive. Grass and dirt trails are good, and sand, woodchip and crushed gravel are also better.
Get used to your dog’s normal behaviour when they’re running. If they show signs of struggling, like excessive foaming at the mouth, shaking their head or pulling to the side, stop straight away and find a shaded place to stop. Soak their coat in water and give them some water to drink.
Sometimes having a goal can really help with the motivation – so why not sign up to take part in a run and raise money for charity at the same time?
Blue Cross has guaranteed places available in a lot of the major running events, as well as trekking and cycling. Find out more at www.bluecross.org.uk/activechallenges