Running with your dog can be great fun – and it’s always easier to get that motivation to exercise when you’ve got someone coming out with you! It can help to maintain a healthy lifestyle for you and your dog and strengthen the bond between you.
Things to think about before you start running with your dog
- 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.