Never underestimate the power of a running buddy. Not only is running with someone else motivational in its own way, but also are the friendships formed long-lasting. But have you ever considered that that buddy could be your pet dog as well? Many of you might not have the heart to leave him or her behind when heading out for your training session- so then, don’t! All it takes is understanding your pet well enough and adapting to the way the dog runs, and making the best out of it yourself.
Like you would do yourself, let the training be gradual. Depending on the dog’s level of fitness, start slowly to simply avoid injury or strain. This applies especially to puppies, older and overweight dogs. Begin with a ten minute walk, and gradually increase this timing by ten minutes on a weekly basis.
Discard the headphones
You wouldn’t listen to your iPod if you were running with a friend, would you? Don’t do that here as well. In this case, it’s not because of impoliteness but mainly because you are responsible for your dog. You need to listen and watch them closely- their breathing, their footsteps and any signs of fatigue or discomfort. Don’t push them like you would push yourself. Even if there are times when you have to cut your pace or stop just to help them catch their breath, do it.
Choose your terrain
Dogs aren’t blessed with running shoes suited for any surface, so choose your track wisely. Avoid stony paths as the sharp rocks can crack their footpads. Don’t choose flat, concrete surfaces that might tend to get too hot for them to walk on, let alone run on. India isn’t as privileged as the West to have doggie tracks, but choose lanes that are shady and cool and not prone to traffic, or go running in a pet-friendly park. Keep checking their feet for cracks or unnatural hardness.
Dogs understand your emotions and respond very well to them. So stay calm at all times when running with your pet. If something is causing you to get tense, don’t show it! Nervousness and anxiety don’t go very well with dogs, as they get overly anxious themselves. So if you face a situation wherein you spot a pack of stray dogs along the route you are headed, don’t react. Instead, slow down, talk to you dog, and calmly turn or move away in a different direction.
Walk and run, in spurts. A recommended number is six to eight intervals in the entire span. This is good for both you and your pet to build stamina. But more importantly, it brings in a sense of play and gets your dog more excited about the next time you stop walking and start running.
Carry food and drink
Luggage can be a pain, especially when you are running distances. But when you run with your dog, it is more than essential to carry water and treats along with you. Treats can sometimes distract them, so you may choose whether to bring them with you or not. But water is a must, because dogs tend to struggle when the weather gets hotter or more humid. If they can’t pant it out, it might lead to a heatstroke. So ensure they are hydrated just as well as you are.
Follow the leader
Dogs have a tendency to follow the leader of the pack. So always walk or run in front of them, or beside them. But don’t let them run ahead of you, as that will result in obedience problems at a later stage. If you prefer having them on a leash, then you won’t have to worry too much about this. But ensure that you aren’t the one being taken for a run!
Consult a vet
Before you begin running with your dog, check with your vet. Each breed has a different level of stamina, and can adjust to only a certain level of exercise and stress. All dogs aren’t the same in body type and endurance standards- so you need to check on how well they are doing periodically. Though running with dogs is a good habit, many runners want to take it to the next level by bringing their pets along with them for 5Ks and 10Ks. Though that might sound like fun, it might not always be good for the dog. So before you embark on any such thing, remember to always consult your veterinarian.