With spring and warmer weather upon us, you're probably seeing more people jogging outside. Running with your dog is a great way to get your pup some much needed exercise as well as strengthen the bond between you two. But it isn't always the easiest task. Here are five tips for running with dogs and successful dog running sessions.
1. Be Realistic
So you're super excited to start your running regimen with your canine companion. But before getting started, think about your dog and whether running works for them in reality. If your dog doesn't enjoy running, you won't want to force them to do something they don't love. In addition, dogs of certain ages and breeds aren't suited for running (more on that below). So you'll need to be realistic about whether running actually works for your pup.
2. Breed Matters
Certain breeds are not suited for running, while others make great jogging buddies. In particular, brachycephalic breeds (those with short muzzles like English and French bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers, etc.) have trouble running. Their short muzzles make it difficult for them to regulate body temperature, causing them to over-heat easily. In addition, their short muzzles can cause brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, which can result in respiratory distress.
On the flip side, it's not surprising that dolichocephalic breeds (those with longer muzzles like Greyhounds, Dobermans and Poodles) are better suited for running. This is because their long muzzles allow them to inhale more efficiently, which means they get enough oxygenated blood pumped around to make their muscles work. In addition, certain dolichocephalic breeds were made for running, such as the Greyhound.
Pro Tip: Some breeds that are suited for running do better with speed, while others do better with endurance. For example, Greyhounds are great for short, quick runs while Huskies are better for long distance running.
3. Age Matters Too
Your dog's age also matters when it comes to determining whether your dog is suited for running. Older dogs can have trouble with running because they may get too tired as their stamina drops or have injuries and conditions that limit their ability to run.
On the other hand, puppies are not well suited for running. This is because their growth plates (areas of cartilage at the end of bones that calcify and strengthen as your puppy grows) are not fully developed. If you start running your pup too early, it can cause weakness, deformity or hip dysplasia later in life. This is why it's important to not over-exercise your pup and wait until he or she has fully matured before rigorous running. Full maturity occurs around 12 months of age for small to medium breeds and 18-24 months for large to giant breeds.
Pro Tip: If you do run with your still-maturing puppy, use the 5-minute rule to determine how long to run. This means about 5 minutes of exercise per month of age, so a three month old can tolerate around 15 minutes, a five month old around 25 min, etc.
4. Start Slowly
Just like humans need to get into shape and condition ourselves for exercise routines, dogs need to do so too. So it's best to start slowly and work your way up to tougher runs. One effective way to get your dog ready for your workout is to begin with running/walking intervals. For example: one minute of running, two minutes of walking, one minute of running, two minutes of walking...etc. In addition, make your beginning workouts shorter overall, starting between 10 and 15 minutes and then working your way up to longer runs.
Pro Tip: Your dog will pant from your workouts, but he or she should not be winded. Being winded involves excessive panting, which is a sign of overexertion and a need to scale back.
5. Keep The Leash
You may think it's more fun for both you and your dog to run off-leash and freely, but it's a better idea to keep him or her on-leash. Even if your dog is well trained, it's simply safer to use a leash. You never know when your dog will wander off after catching a scent or what animals and people you may meet along the way. If you don't love running with a standard leash, there are plenty of jogging leashes and harnesses that have elastic stretch to mitigate tugging.