Whether you are a beginner or a long-time runner, having a running buddy can bring a lot of benefits to your running routine. For example, it will be much easier to make running your habit if you have an accountability buddy. Another plus is having someone to motivate you and keep the pace. Maybe you do not have many people in your surroundings that like to run, but you do not have to look further than your own backyard.
Your dog can be the best running buddy you can find. Here are some tips on how to train your dog to be the perfect running companion.
Breed and age are important
If you are a long-distance runner, maybe your dog is not suited for that kind of running.
For example, dogs like bulldogs and pugs have a short muzzle, which is not the best feature for longer runs.
Another thing to point out is that for young dogs and puppies running long distances can be dangerous since their bones are not yet developed, so the pressure running puts on the bones can lead to injury. For most breeds, it takes about one or one and a half years for their bones to be fully grown, but check with your vet before you consider running with your dog.
Get the right equipment
Just like humans, dogs require specific equipment to make them safe and comfy while running. Also, keep in mind that your best furry friend may be much faster than you, so you may find yourself running at a much higher pace than usual. That is why you should consider investing in better and more durable running shoes and other running gear. You can find more resources here.
There are some things to consider. For example, is your dog going to be on a leash while running or not? Finding a functional and durable strap is the most important, but if your dog is going to run without one, then investing in an excellent reflective running vest for your dog is crucial. This especially applies if you are going on a run at night and in a busy part of the town. With a reflective vest, your dog will be seen by drivers at any distance, so the risks of getting hit by a vehicle are significantly reduced.
Another item that you should consider, especially if your dog is short-haired, is a good running vest for colder seasons.
Start by walking
Dogs are creatures of habit, so practicing daily is the only way to succeed. Once you teach your dog that the specific time of the day is your running time, it will be much easier to teach them how to run at your pace and follow you. The best place to start is to go out for a walk each day around the time when you usually go for a run. Practice loose-leash walking before training him to run by your side.
The environment may be too stimulating for your dog, like a lot of birds, squirrels, and other dogs, so if you want to keep him by your side, you will need to make your walk just as rewarding as running after smaller animals. Use a lot of treats and toys to reinforce your dog not to pull the leash and run after every stimulus they see.
Once you have mastered the loose-leash technique, it is time to try without the leash. Maybe this time, you will need more treats, but it will be worth it.
Maybe your dog likes to run and gets plenty of exercises each day, but if he does not, then you will need to build up his stamina before he can keep your pace.
Maybe they never before ran such long distances, but just like humans, they need to train their endurance for the longer runs slowly.
Start by adding small running sessions in your daily walks; once he masters following you at a slow pace, try adding more running sessions until your dog can follow you for the complete run at a leisurely pace. Then, it’s all about slowly increasing the speed until you reach your regular running pace.
Pay attention to your dog
Sometimes you may be having a lot of fun running with your dog, but he could not be just as excited. If he does not like your daily runs, then maybe you will need to find another running buddy.
A dog who enjoys the runs us going to be happy and enthusiastic about the runs even before you set your foot out of the door. On the other hand, if he is whining, hesitating, and his tail or ears are tucked, that is a sign that he is not a big running fan.
It is essential to keep in mind that every dog is different, and their behaviors are unique. You need to know and understand what is best for your dog, even though you do not like the idea of running without him. Maybe they enjoy the walks, but do not like the runs. Pay attention to the behavioral cues your dog is exhibiting once you start practicing running. Is his attitude changed before, during, or after the activity?
Running in hot weather
Although you can run on most days, even during the summer, think about how the weather conditions impact your dog. For example, dogs do not really think about stopping for a sip of water, which may lead to dehydration.
One thing to point out is that during the hot months it is advised to run early in the morning or in the evening. That way, you will avoid the high afternoon temperatures, but also because your dog is not a huge fan of heat. One trait that all animals have is the impulse to avoid any kind of activity during the heat period. That is why your dog sleeps during the day all summer long.
But if it is quite hot even in the morning and evening, it is vital to make sure you and your dog get enough water on your runs. That means making a lot of small water breaks. But, pay attention to the way your dog drinks water. It is crucial that he does not drink in huge gulps, because that can result in him swallowing too much air and developing bloat.
Another tip is to make smaller breaks in the summer months. Let your dog cool down for 10-15 minutes before continuing with your run.
Additionally, keep in mind that hot asphalt can be damaging to your dog’s sensitive paw pads. You can reduce the risk of burning his paw beans by purchasing paw wax or running booties. But it is always better to check if it is safe for your dog to join you in a run. If you want to make sure that it is risk-free, there is a simple way to check: place your hand on the concrete and hold for seven seconds. If it is too hot for you to keep it on the ground, then it is certainly too hot for your dog.
Running with your dog can be fun, but there are many things to watch out for if you want your furry little friend to be safe. Once they join you in your runs, you will wonder why you did not try running with them earlier.