Are you thinking of getting a dog to run with you? Dogs are such great companions and they always want to go outside with you. My dog Sadie is my favorite running partner. She will go as far and as fast (or slow) as I want, and usually without complaint (I am guilty of taking her a little too far for her comfort level, oops).
Dogs are one of the best motivators to go running. I put my running clothes on and Sadie is excited and ready to go. On mornings that I am slow to get motivated, and I’m thinking about maybe skipping my run, I look at her sweet face and I know she’s wants to go, so I lace up and we go. I never regret it.
As some of you know I am an ED nurse, which means I see people daily that have issues with weight, stress, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, the list goes on. Most, if not all of these people have been told by their PMD’s to exercise, so I ask them if they have a dog. What better way to get off the couch then to go walk (or run) your dog?
Most dogs are natural runners. Some are built to go long distance while others just want to sprint. For example, Weimaraners will run forever, while French bulldogs will play a bit then lay by your feet and ironically enough I have heard that Greyhounds are couch potatoes. If you already have a dog or you have your heart set on a particular breed, do your research and consider how far you plan on running. Are you training for a marathon or are you happy with 3 or 4 miles a few days a week? It is also wise to check with you veterinarian. I tend to look for the answers that best suit my needs :-). My vet told me 2 miles was all my German shepherd should do, but the first book I bought on German shepherds opened with the question “Are you ready to run a marathon?”. I took that as a go.
A few thing to remember when running with your dog:
- Start easy: Meaning ease in to your mileage. You didn’t start running 6 miles right off, your dog probably doesn’t want to either. And puppies can’t run until they are 10 – 12 mo’s old or they could end up with joint problems later. Always check with your vet.
- Consider the weather: If it is 85 degrees, it’ too hot. The ground is hot, the air is hot, it is too hot! Why are you even running when it’s 85? If you live where it is always hot you may need to run really early or really late. Or you just can’t bring Fido :-(. If your dog is panting during your run or for an hour afterwards, it’s too hot for her/him.
- No food or water before a run: Dogs can get bloat which is life threatening if they eat before, or right after, exercise. I let Sadie have sips of water during our long runs, especially when it’s warm out, but never more than sips. I also give her a biscuit after a run and have never had a problem.
- Rest days: Just like you, your dog needs rest, especially when first starting a new running program. If your dog seems excessively tired or is limping, you need to back off a little. Remember, your dog will always want to go with you but sometimes it’s too much. This has been a hard concept for me to grasp because I love running with my dog and feel guilty when I leave the house without her.
- Carry poop bags: And use them. Always pick up after your dog.
- Not everyone likes dogs: I know, how is this possible? But it’s true and you need to remember that when you run past people. I can usually tell by peoples body language if they are afraid of my dog. I try to make sure they see that I am in control of my dog and won’t let her go near them.
- Not all dogs like other dogs: When running past other dogs I give them an extra room to go by. If that is not possible I will stop and have my dog sit until they pass. I do this because when we are running, especially in the beginning of the run, Sadie is extra excited and if the other dog shows any interest at all or if the other dog comes at her (usually the little dogs) then she wants to get in their face. They don’t always respond well to this (the dog or owner) and it can cause a ruckus. I would rather avoid the whole situation. Usually by the end of our run it’s not even an issue because she’s tired and couldn’t be bothered.
- Be careful of other wildlife: If trail running, don’t let your dog stick her nose in the bushes or shrubs, she may have caught the scent of something that both of you don’t want to meet, like a snake. Keeping her on the trail helps avoid ticks, thorns, critters, etc.
Here’s a link to The 20 Best Dog Breeds for Runners from Outside magazine.
I hope you have found this information helpful and I have been inspired you to get a dog. Always check the rescues for dogs instead of breeders. There are a lot of dogs that need homes and they will love you forever.
Do you have a four-legged running partner? Share your comments below.
Thanks for reading! Have a beautiful day!