Keeping your own fitness levels up is a healthy hobby and keeping your four-legged friend’s fitness up is an essential part of being a pooch paw-rent. So, why not combine the two and take up running with your dog?
Going for a jog with your dog is not only a great way to spend that extra time together but it also has several benefits for the both of you. We all know that finding the motivation to go for a run can often be difficult to muster but having a running partner in your pooch can help give you that enthusiasm.
With this in mind, you need to be following the right advice, tips and tricks to take your pup running with you. We’re going to give you the rundown of everything you need to know to keep fit with your canine.
Daily exercise is all a part of the package when it comes to owning a dog, whatever breed you’ve got, they’ll all massively benefit from a potter round the park. However, every dog breed needs different amounts of exercise and it’s true that some pooches will not make the best running partners.
The dog breeds that make the best running companions are those were once bred to have the energy, stamina and eagerness for working and other high energy activities.
Gundogs such as Pointers, Hungarian Vizslas, Golden Retrievers, Weimaraners, Poodles and Spaniels all make brilliant running partners as they were once bred to assist their owners hunt. These hunts entailed racing and chasing across huge expanses of land for game.
If you’re looking to run long distances over various terrains, a gundog breed may be the right choice. Generally, the rule goes, larger dogs with larger legs can run a larger, longer distance.
Despite this, dogs such as Border Collies are also impeccable runners, they’re truly up for anything. They’ve got bounds of energy and they need everything you can give them to actually tire them out, making them the paw-fect breed to run alongside you.
Even tiny terriers such as Jack Russells are surprisingly good at long-distance running. This is because they were once bred to hunt and kill vermin in small spaces, which required these terriers to be swift, speedy and have a high level of stamina.
All of these dog breeds will be constantly ready to get up and move, they’ll never complain, and they’ll be paw-fectly happy to run right by your side, given they’ve had the proper training.
All dogs need a steady, regular exercise routine, so it’s easy to presume that every dog will make a great running buddy, but this isn’t always the case. There are several dog breeds that are just not equipped for racing up and down the streets, for various dif-fur-ent reasons.
Brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog breeds such as French Bulldogs, Shih Tzus and Bulldogs are a definite no go when it comes to sourcing the paw-fect partner for your running regime. Bulldogs are notoriously lazy, but their inability to be your running buddy isn’t just due to that.
The adorable appearance of brachycephalic dog breeds, with their squished-up faces and wrinkly skin, unfortunately poses the risk of overheating, exhaustion and breathing problems. They only bode well running around for short distances for their daily exercise and play, a long-distance dash would emphasise the health issues these dogs are already prone to.
The utterly unique sausage-shaped appearance of Dachshunds also makes them unsuitable for running. Their tiny little legs simply mean that they won’t be able to keep up with you! The same goes for Corgis too. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these two dog breeds don’t need a lot of exercise, however. They’ve got bounds of energy all stuffed into a tiny body, they just wouldn’t be able to pick up the same speed that you’d need to meet your paw-sonal record-breaking run.
Surprisingly, you’d probably think that sighthound breeds such as Greyhounds and Whippets would make great running buddies due to their history as racing dogs. There’s no question that these dogs have the speed and agility (they’d definitely beat you in a 100m sprint), but they’re built to be sprinters, not long-distance runners.
If you’re wanting to run for miles and miles, a Greyhound is paw-ssibly the wrong choice. However, if you’re looking for a quick race, you’ll be definitely no competition for your speedy, sprinting sighthound.
Even though it’s typically the larger breeds with the larger legs that can run a longer distance, you need to be careful if you own a giant dog breed such as a Great Dane or Newfoundland.
The heavier the dog, the more pressure that is placed on their joints, which is emphasised even more when they’re running, as this creates impact every time their heavy, clunky paws hit the floor. Frequent, long-distance runs are not ideal for these breeds.
Just the same as the breed plays a role in choosing a running partner, their age does too. Running is never a safe pastime for young puppies, even if they’re a breed recommended for running.
Exercise in general should be monitored with a new puppy, as too much exercise can create too much impact and damage to their developing bones and joints. You must work out what the appropriate amount of exercise is for your pup, based on their breed, size and age.
Whatever the breed, it's advised to wait until your dog is about 1 ½ years-old before you begin your shared hobby to prevent any joint damage. In the meantime, stick to gentle exercises, training and mental enrichment activities to keep your puppy entertained.
So, now you’ve decided on the best breed to be your buddy on runs, you need to train them to actually do it. Every dog is totally unique and has their own paw-sonality, even within a breed, which means that some will quickly take to running whereas some will be much trickier to train.
Just like with general dog training, you’ll always have some bumps in the road, so just persevere with your pooch.
As stated, this is going to take some time and patience. Before you head out on your first sprint, it’s incredibly im-paw-tent to nail walking on a loose lead.
If your pooch is a puller on the lead, desperate to get to their destination, it can sometimes feel like your arm is going to be yanked out of its socket. Imagine this same feeling, but at a much faster speed. If your dog is pulling you while you’re both running at a considerable pace, it can actually be quite dangerous.
This is not only fundamental when training loose lead walking, but also key when it comes to jogging too.
If your pup is zigzagging from side to side or running ahead of you, it’s easy for them to unintentionally trip you up or get you in a big tangle with the lead.
You must choose which side of you they’re going to run and be consistent with it. From here, you can start walking at a steady pace and slowly build it up.
Once your dog is an expert at walking steadily alongside you on the lead, it’s time to start with the proper training.
When you start your walk, think of a handy command word, so your pup knows it’s time to set off, for example ‘walk’, or ‘go’. The command can be anything you want, so you can even think of something funny, if you like!
Once you think your pup has got this down, add in another command such as ‘let’s run’ and start increasing your pace, allowing your pooch to differentiate between the two speeds they have when you’re out and about. Essentially, the more information you can provide your dog about what you expect from then, the easier it’ll be for them to react exactly how you want them to.
In these initial stages of running, it’s im-paw-tent to combine quick, short bursts of jogging alongside your typical walking speed to reinforce the commands. State your chosen command right before you start walking or running and give them a tasty treat or lots of verbal praise when they catch up beside you.
Now your pup is a little bit of a jogging genius, able to stick to your side and match your speed, you’ll now need to build up their endurance. Just like how we humans need to train and work up to long distance running gradually, our dogs need to do the same.
Building up the muscle strength and stamina will take time, but if you’re both starting your running journey from scratch it’ll be the paw-fect op-paw-tunity to motivate each other.
The number one thing you probably need to consider is that this should be a fun hobby that you both can enjoy leisurely. If you’re wanting to hit new targets and beat your own paw-sonal bests, it might be best to go out solo.
At the end of the day, dogs are dogs, and they need to get the most out of their exercise. Regular sessions to have a sniff at the ground and experience the world, with a couple of bathroom breaks along the way is a fundamental part of your dog’s exercise routine.
All in all, if your pooch is your running buddy, it’s not going to be a race, you need to be willing to take a break and pause for your pup. It’s a great form of exercise for the both of you, but most of all it needs to be a pleasurable hobby for you to enjoy together.
Take the time to let your dog warm up before you run, and then decompress and cool down with a brisk walk afterwards for a couple of minutes
Always carry water with you and offer it to your pooch at regular intervals to avoid dehydration
Have frequent stops so they can have a bathroom break, a breather and a sniff. They navigate and experience the world mostly through their sense of smell, so this is essential
Be conscious of the weather. Even if you personally run whatever the weather, extreme heat, snow or rain could be too much for your dog, so it’s safer to leave them at home
Keep your eye on them, if they’re panting or lagging behind they may need to stop. A lot of dogs are eager to please their owners and will keep going and going even though they want to stop
If you’re allowing them to run off lead, only do so where it’s safe and legal and if you are totally certain they’ve got reliable recall. A dog lead that clips around your waist may come in handy if carrying a normal lead in your hands is difficult while running
Once your dog is ready to run, there are tons of paw-stives that you’ll both experience.
The main advantage of running together is that you kind of get a two for one deal, you get your exercise and so does your pooch. Choosing running as your form of exercise means that you don’t have to find the time to exercise both yourself and your dog individually. Even better, you don’t need to pay for that expensive gym membership, just get yourself a good pair of long-lasting running shoes!
Also, running together allows you to spend more time with your pooch, which can never be a bad thing. This additional bonding time with your pup will cement your connection with each other.
Exercise also has a positive impact on mental health, and this includes your pooch’s too. The exercise and mental stimulation should keep your pooch happy and healthy, hopefully preventing any undesirable behaviours like destroying your furniture and household objects out of boredom.
Overall, running with your dog can be an amazing form of exercise that can benefit you both, as long as you don’t start taking it too seriously and getting competitive!