Your dog might be your best friend, but that doesn’t automatically make them your best running buddy too. But running with Fido can be great exercise for you and your pup… when it’s done right. So after you’ve found a race that you actually want to run and have identified the training plan that’ll turn you into a running pro, it’s time to start pounding some pavement. To keep training interesting, grab your furry friend and follow these five tips from Christina Russell, president of the doggy daycare and training company Camp Bow Wow, to keep you and your dog safe and free of common running injuries.
1. Start slow. Just like humans need to build up endurance and strength over time, so does your pooch. “If your dog has never been out for a run with you, don’t expect him to be up for a marathon. Start with a combination of running and walking for short periods of time until you notice that his endurance is increasing. Just as humans are, dogs are susceptible to stress fractures and heat stroke,” Christina says. Also, follow the basics of a good workout to avoid injury — for both of you. “Your jog should include five minutes of warm-up, 20 minutes of jogging and five minutes of cool-down,” Christina says.
2. Be mindful of the weather. “You know how torturous it can be to run on a brutally hot day with high humidity — so don’t subject your dog to that either. Dogs, like humans, can overheat very quickly. If you absolutely must run that day, go during the early morning hours before the sun becomes scorchingly hot, or leave your dog at home for this run,” Christina advises. Also — believe it or not — dogs can get sunburns too! As you’re prepping to run on a sunny day, she recommends you slather sunscreen on yourself and your pup, “especially if it has shorter hair or is a lighter color.”
3. Wear proper accessories for safety. Between avoiding the hottest part of the day and heading to work, you often have to fit your run in before sunrise or after sunset. “If you’re running in the dark, be sure that you and your pup accessorize with some reflective gear so that you’re visible to traffic,” Christina recommends. No, we won’t judge you for wearing matching neon vests.
4. Protect those puppy paws. Not all running surfaces are created equal. “Too much walking or running on concrete can stress dog joints and irritate their foot pads,” Christina says. “On sunny days, pavement and asphalt get incredibly hot and can quickly burn your pup’s feet. Gravel can be dangerous as well, as it can puncture their paws. To be safe, only take your dog running on dirt trails, grass or sand. Stop periodically during your run to check his paws for burns or cuts.”
5. Hydrate before, during and after your run. “Make sure you and your dog have properly hydrated before you go for a run. If you’re going first thing in the morning, wait until the pup has had a bowl or two of water, and you’ve had a chance to drink some H20 too. Remember to bring along a portable bowl or cup so you can stop and give your dog some water throughout your run.”
Do you run with your dog? Tweet us your tips to @BritandCo!