Our Luna is a 7-month old boxer mix. She is a great dog, very sweet, good-natured and playful and she loves everyone and I mean EVERYONE!
She is a very strong and muscular dog with lots of energy and since she was a tiny puppy, Dustin – along with family & friends – have been saying that she would make a great running dog. But, until today I’ve never even take into consideration to run with her. But, when I woke up this morning, the idea just hit me by surprise! “Today is the perfect occasion to give it a try.” I said. Dustin was in North Caroline for work, I wanted to go for a run but I didn’ t have the heart to leave Luna home alone (the poor thing was going to be home all day anyway) and she really needed to exercise. “Perfect,” I thought, “ it’s gonna be a fun new adventure.”
Without thinking too much about it, I put on my running gears, grabbed a dog waste bag, leashed Luna up and hit the road. There we were. Me and my pup, running together! For the first mile, I think that Luna was a little confused and, I have to say that it was a little challenging as she was cutting me off running into me, pulling me constantly to smell things or to try to eat a bird or two. She stopped to do her business but, after that initial warm up, I was happily surprised of how great she was doing. She was keeping up with me, running by my side most of the time, once in a while she would look at me with her tongue sticking out, but she didn’t seem to be tired! She was her usual happy self. My pup was running like a champion! I was so proud of her! “Running 4 miles for the first time is pretty impressive…..she is definitely my dog!” I thought to myself.
When we got home, I showered and got ready for my teleconference training class and during the whole time she was walking from one room to the other, playing with her tail and chewing on her yellow rubbery bone. I was expecting her to be out cold but she didn’t seem to be fading at all! What a crazy pup we got!
It was until Simonetta told me that I should take it easy at first, especially if she is not used to running and that her running friends with dogs tend to try 1 mile first and increase from there, that I started to think that I might have pushed too much for her first time. I definitely don’t want to hurt our pooch, and as a good mom would do, I did some researches and found out that running is not for every dog and that just like human dogs too need to build up their endurance gradually. One thing I know for sure though, is that Luna is definitely made for running! But just because she can run 4 miles at ease doesn’t mean she should! So, even if your dog was born to run fast, you need to start slow.
Below few tips to consider before you go out running with your dog.
- Always check with your veterinarian before starting your dog on a running program to make sure to make sure she/he’s healthy and fit enough to handle it.
- Don’t run with your dog until they have fully grown. Puppies shouldn’t run until their bones stop growing, since their joint are prone to injury. This takes about 9 months in small dogs, and up to 16 months to larger breeds.
- Your dog will need time to build up his stamina, strength and endurance. You want to build up slowly, just like you did when you began running. Professional dog trainer, JT Clough, says “Start with 3 times per week for 15 to 20 minutes, and build up from there, adding 5 minutes each week.” A walk – run – walk is a great way to start. Don’t rush! Your dog needs to build up muscle tissue and strengthen its ligaments.
- Consider your dog’s breed. Based on my researches, active breeds such as dogs from the sporting, herding, hound and terrier groups, northern breeds and any mixture are most frequently recommended, including such breeds as Retrievers (Golden and Labrador), Border Collies, German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, Collies, Shelties, and Heelers. Here is a great site where you can find a list of “Excellent Jogging Companions“. However, there is not perfect running breed, and a dog’s personality and temperament make a difference too!
- Keep in mind the type of surface you are jogging on. In the summer, asphalt and concrete become very hot, while grass and dirt stay relatively cool. Also, harder surfaces such as concrete could cause damage to the pads of a dog’s feet. Check paw pads after each run for cracking, blisters, tears, or tenderness.
- Train your dog to run beside you, preferably on a leash or harness. A collar or the gentle leader can potentially be dangerous. A well fitted and comfortable harness is the right equipment for running. No pinch, prong or e-collars. The experience should be positive for the dog!
- Never run in the heat of the day. Dogs dehydrate faster than humans. Early morning or evening runs are best. Make sure to carry water with you or exercise near water so your pup can hydrate and cool off.
- Looks for sign of fatigue –flattened ears, tail down, heavy painting. If the dog is exhausted, he may sit down and refuse to continue- a sure sign you’ve gone too far too fast. And if he is really lethargic postrun, he might need a day or two off.
- Exercise stimulates the dog bowels and in most places the law requires you to pick up after your dog. Ensure you bring bags along to remove your dog’s feces.
- Dogs like routines, so if you establish a regular exercise time, you’ll never have to self-motivate. Your dog will beg you to get up and get going.