Run with Your Dog on National Dog Day!
It’s true what they say – “Dogs are a man’s (or woman’s) best friend!” In honor of #NationalDogDay, we’ve put together some of our best tips on training with your BFF (Best Furry Friend) and taking them out on your next run!
First and foremost, safety is key! This means safety not only for you and those around you, but also for your dog. It is important to remember that like humans, it is also important for dogs to hydrate and protect their bodies.
- Check the weather. If your dog is new to running and/or if it is especially hot outside, consider waiting until evening or waking up a bit earlier to beat the heat. Be sure to carry liquids not only for you, but also for your dog so that they do not get over-heated or dehydrated. Be prepared to take breaks as needed. It is also important to remember that while you have shoes to protect your feet, your dog’s paw pads can become sensitive, especially on hot asphalt. Be sure to consider time of day and heat under their feet when planning out your run! This can also apply in colder temps – try running midday to avoid freezing cold pavement under your pup’s paws!
- Know your dog’s health limits and check with your vet if needed. According to an article by Runner’s World .com, “it isn’t advisable to run with puppies as the growth plate at the end of their bones is still growing, making them more prone to injury. Similarly, running may not be suitable for dogs with joint issues”. If you are unsure about the status of your dog’s health/age, it is always a good idea to check with your vet.
- Start slow. Consider your own personal training. It wouldn’t be healthy on the human body to go from 0 miles per week to 50 miles per week in a short period of time. The same applies to our 4-legged friends! Start small with a short distance at a steady or comfortable pace and build up distance and speed over time so that your dog can become accustomed to the mileage. This sentiment was seconded by AMPT Ambassador Meghan O’Gorman who has experience training two dogs to run by her side. Meghan suggests starting with less than half a mile and increasing this distance weekly. She runs with smaller sized dogs, and started with .2 miles, then .3, and so on. Larger dogs may be able to start with a further distance, but again be sure to factor in their experience level. Another tip with building mileage is to do a combination of run/walking, just as any new runner would do. Walking will help build endurance and time on their (4) feet!
- Pay attention. Stay alert and avoid wearing headphones when training with your dog. It will be important to be mindful of other pedestrians/pets, but also oncoming traffic. Keep your pet on a close leash so that everyone (including them) stays safe. Also be on the lookout for wildlife to avoid the SQUIRREL effect. Maintain control of your dog so that you are not being pulled along behind them as they chase after another animal.
- The last point to make about safety is to “know your pet”, according to Meghan O’Gorman. She continues, “They may get excited or nervous around other people or dogs, so you would need to take this into consideration.” Meghan has run a few 5Ks with her dog Rosie, and she made sure that dogs were not only approved to participate, but she also kept her close by. She notes that this is important because “she didn’t want her to get too far from her on the leash and trip someone”. Meghan also mentions that when they are training, she runs in the evening when less people are around.IMPORTANT: be sure to check an individual race’s pet policy BEFORE planning to bring your pet to an event. Many races do not allow dogs, and it is important to follow all race rules and regulations.
Once your dog’s safety has been factored in, be prepared to prioritize your pup. This could mean that your pacing is slower than normal. Meghan discussed what it was like training with her both of her dogs, Rosie and Vetta. “I went her pace. If she speeds up, I speed up. I do the same with Vetta. If she runs, it is not super-fast, so I do whatever pace she wants.” I also know this to be true, as I personally trained with my dog Sandie and she would often start off too fast, get tired, and then need to walk. Whenever I took Sandie out to run, I did not expect it to be a long distance or a fast run, because I knew she’d need to stop to use the bathroom, stop for water, get distracted, and eventually would tire out easily. Start with low expectations and build their endurance and training over time. Like anything in life, practice makes perfect, but no matter how you and your pet bond, we hope they feel all the love on this National Dog Day!
NOTE: For more information about running with dogs, the best types of breeds to run with, recommended equipment. and more, check out this article (referenced above), from RunnersWorld.com.