Tips for Running With Your Dog
1. Start off SLOW! When we got Daisy, she was a tiny little 6lb baby, so we definitely started from the beginning. Our mailbox is a community box two blocks away so I would take her there and back to get her used to the leash. (We never check our mail that much, lol!) As she grew, we took her out for longer walks, always in the same route so she gets used to smells. Our neighborhood makes a perfect mile loop so that worked out great for training her. Soon, all of my neighbors knew me because they would stop to pet her! There are several studies that say to wait at least a year before you run with your little pup because they are like human infants whose bones are not fused together just yet. They need to grow into their skeleton, and running can cause injuries. (Links to reference articles are below). So, when she turned 1, we finally went out for a run. By that point, she was wearing the harness pictured because she was pulling too much on her collar around her neck, and the harness offers more control from me. When you start running, go shorter distances, just like you would for yourself. Remember when you started; each time increase your distance with your dog. I've gone 8 miles with Daisy and she loved it!
2. Get the right gear. As mentioned before, harnesses are better for running. They don't pull at their neck and offer more control. I purchased this one at Petsmart because it matches her collar and leash, but you can find one that works best for you. I also purchased a doggie bag holder from Amazon that has velcro that attaches to the back of her harness. Gotta pick up after your doggie! (And let me tell you-- running is a catalyst for poop!) After about 6 months of training her on the same routes, I purchased a hands-free leash that clips around my stomach. I was nervous about this at first, but she is a champ on this thing! She runs in front of me so I can see her and make sure she is ok, and if we need to turn, I just pull the leash like reigns on a horse. It's awesome to have hands free while running with her. When we run in the summer evenings, I purchased little lights that clip on the front of her harness from Amazon. (Really, Amazon is just the best!) They come in a 6 pack of different colors. I have the green one on her harness and it's lasted for two years now. They have different types of blinking modes, as well. I just wish she had saddle bags to hold the filled poop bags when we are not near a trash can. Running with a bag of poop is a bit awkward...
3. Be aware of your running environment. I live in the south where it gets extremely hot in the summer, so I need to make sure my dog is ok while we run in the heat. I always carry water in a Nathan's water bottle and let her drink from it every mile and a half or so. She has the tendency to slow down and lick me when she's thirsty, too! Be careful of the heat on the pavement in the summer. You may not feel in through your shoes, but the dog can feel it on their pads. Touch the pavement before you head out. Would you run barefoot on it? If not, then don't take your dog on it. I have seen little booties you can put on your dog's feet to protect them (good for rocky trail running, too) but honestly, I don't think Daisy would let me put those on her! It breaks my heart when I see someone out with their dog at 4pm when it's 100+ degrees outside. Poor doggie! On that note, you also need to watch for broken glass or anything on the road or trail that could hurt your dog's feet. I see broken glass a lot (so sad!) so I steer her away from it as much as I can. I'm always looking at the sidewalk ahead of us to make sure it's clear for her (and me!).
4. Have fun!! Sometimes I can get caught up in making sure I complete certain training workouts, but they don't always happen. A lot of the times, I get out there because I know she wants to. Daisy knows where my running clothes are and gets excited, and it's the best thing!
There are so many benefits to running with your dog. You both bond on these outings, you both get healthier, and your dog could make you a faster runner! I know that she has increased my relaxed pace over a minute per mile faster since we started running together. The vet comments on her body weight and composition when we take her in for a check up. We're better together!
I hope these tips were helpful for you so you can take your dog out on your next run and find a new running buddy!
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