Studies have shown that runners do better when they have a partner to run with. A partner is a motivator; a companion – someone who can help pass the time so boredom does not set in. For some people, the perfect running companion is the family dog. We have seen more than one dog sporting a matching sparkle skirt while accompanying “mommy” on a run.
Running with your dog can be very fulfilling experience that strengthens the bond between you and allows both of you to get much-needed exercise. However, man’s best friend does not respond the same way to long-distance running as you do. There are some things you need to know in order to keep your dog safe and healthy while running.
Endurance Takes Time
You already know that dogs are fast. It only takes a single squirrel to motivate your dog to take off like greased lightning. And while dogs are built for speed, they are not built for endurance. Dogs fatigue very quickly, especially in warmer weather. Therefore, it will take time for you to build up Fido’s endurance.
The simple rule is to not take your dog for a run of several miles the first time out. Better yet, slowly get him up to speed by running around the block for a few weeks before graduating him to greater distances. If you are already running 5 miles a day on your own, it may take a couple of months of training before your dog is ready to go the entire distance.
Consider the Running Surface
Most of us do not even stop to consider the feet of our dogs because we know they have built-in pads underneath. However, those pads cannot withstand everything. In fact, these are actually more sensitive than most people understand. Therefore, it is important to consider the running surface before taking your dog on a long-distance jog.
Hot asphalt or concrete during the summertime is never a good idea. Such surfaces can reach temperatures in excess of 130° on a sunny day when the air temperature is a mere 80°. A good rule of thumb is to not run your dog on any surface you would not be willing to traverse barefoot.
During the winter months, you need to be careful about salt and road grit. If these substances become stuck between the pads of your dog’s feet, it can cause ulcers, infections and other pretty serious problems.
Don’t Forget the Water
Lastly, do not forget to bring some water for your dog. Because dogs are built for speed rather than endurance, they also dehydrate rather quickly. It is up to you to make sure your dog gets enough water during your run. That may mean stopping after a few miles and jogging in place while your dog re-hydrates.
It helps if you can teach Fido to take water out of a sports bottle by squirting it into his mouth. If not, you might have to carry a dish with you. An easy way to do this is to attach a belt clip to the dish or find a small water receptacle you can stick in your fanny pack.
Running with your dog is a great way to exercise and enjoy the companionship of man’s best friend. However, do yourself, and your dog, favor by making sure he is well cared for whenever you go out together. Make sure your dog is up to the task, he has a safe surface to run on, and you have plenty of water. Then you can worry about that sparkle running skirt you have wanted to buy.