Dogs love leading an active lifestyle and, if you’re a runner yourself, it makes perfect sense to bring your fluffy friend along with you. But did you know you could be putting your dog at risk of health issues if you don’t know what you’re doing? Dogs, like humans, can sustain long-term injuries if they’re not exercised properly.
Here’s how to properly train your dog to run in a safe way with you.
Wait Until It’s Safe
You should wait until your dog’s bones have fully developed, which usually happens around 9 months of age but differs from breed to breed. Before that, their bones are still growing and the growth plates at the end of these bones are developing as they grow. These plates are made of cartilage and, as the puppy ages, these plates harden and become strong. If your puppy is regularly exerting itself during these critical months, you may cause damage to these bones.
Whilst within this 9-month period, it’s best to only run for distances under a mile and to do so on soft surfaces, not tarmac.
Dog’s need to warm up their muscles, too. Just like a human, dogs also need to build up their resistance and stamina, so start slow covering shorter distances and build both your fitness levels steadily.
Hard surfaces, such as tarmac on roads and pavements, are far worse for your joints – and it should come as no surprise that they’re worse for your pooch, too. Try to run in fields or on grass for a springier option that puts less stress on the bones and joints.
Using a Lead
It’s important to remember that if your dog is on a lead, you will be forcing your dog to run at a gait it may not be comfortable or fit enough to keep up with. If possible, run with your dog off-lead to give them a chance to run at their own pace and take a break if they need it. If you must use a lead, keep a close eye on how they are doing.
You should keep a close eye on your dog when out running. You should be checking for signs of dehydration, injury, or exhaustion and be mindful that they may be hiding these symptoms in order to keep up with you. You should also monitor them after the run to ensure they’re healthy and happy.