~Best Practices For Running With Your Dog~
Most of us know that exercise extends both our lifespan and our quality of life, and exercise has the same benefit for your pet.
Moreover, an eager dog is great motivation to get out and run. These are just two reasons why you should run with your pet at every opportunity. However, just like people, dogs are not necessarily born runners, and this level of activity is not best for all of them.
What are some ways you can get the most out of running with your dog without putting either of you at risk?
Just like you would never dream of taking your five-year-old son along for a 5K, dogs younger than twenty months should not run. Puppies have under-developed bones, and running could cause them to form incorrectly, leading to a lifetime of discomfort for the both of you.
During your pet’s next vet appointment, ask when the dog will achieve skeletal maturity because the exact age can vary significantly depending on the breed.
Roughly the same thing applies to older dogs, because like older people, they simply have less energy and are more susceptible to injury. But these limitations certainly do not mean that running is off limits for older dogs.
If you run regularly, you no doubt have a good idea about your health and what your limitations are if any. Dogs need to be healthy and physically capable of running. They may want to run, but if they have joint problems such as arthritis caused by hip dysplasia or Patellar luxation, running can be painful.
Since running with your dog is a cardiovascular exercise, your dog’s heart health should also be important to you.
Dogs that are obese may have a harder time of it. Overweight dogs can benefit from more exercise, but you may want to adjust your run accordingly.
Walking habits have a lot to do with running patterns, so if your dog pulls you during walks, the same thing will probably happen during runs. To prevent this, consider using a short two or three-foot leash that keeps your dog by your side, as opposed to a longer six-foot leash that allows more freedom of movement. There are times and places for both.
Dogs should be capable of walking nicely by your side long before you expect them to be your running mate. A dog that pulls, jerks away at the sight of a squirrel or lunges at runners coming in the opposite direction may not do well.
These are all training issues, so if you have a great dog capable of running by your side, a bit of leash training will prepare them for future runs.
Next, continuing in the dogs-are-like-people vein, start slowly. Begin with a ten-minute run every other day, and the next week, add another ten minutes to each jaunt. Thirty minutes is probably a good amount of time for most dogs and their people.
There are two important things to remember here. First, many dogs run as long as their people run whether they are exhausted or not.
Second, and most of us already know this, dogs cannot sweat. Instead, they cool themselves mostly by panting, which is not a very efficient method of heat removal. So, dogs often overdo it in the heat and hurt themselves.
Therefore, it is probably best to run either in the morning or the evening when the sun is lower, and there is plenty of shade.
Also, check your dog for signs of heat exhaustion, such as an altered state of consciousness or excessive gasping for breath. If you see these signs, it’s break time.
Your dog’s paws can be susceptible to injury. You’ve no doubt researched and purchased just the perfect pair of shoes for yourself, but paws are all your dog has as you both pound the cement.
On hot days, asphalt can be dangerous to your dog as the surface temperature rises quickly. On a typical 86 degree day in the summer, the road can cook your dog’s paws to 135 to 143 degrees.
Remember that you can cook an egg at 131 degrees. Even the most dedicated canine runners aren’t likely going to enjoy a run that burns their skin. Find running trails that do not heat up, or schedule runs early in the morning as mentioned above.
Water breaks are also important. Unless you want to take along a water bowl, consider teaching your dog to drink from a bottle.
Some breeds are simply not cut out to running a marathon let alone a mile or two. Most of these fall into the category of brachycephalic breeds. Their small faces flattened noses, partially obstructed airways, and smaller nostrils may make running out of the question.
These breeds such as Pugs, English Bulldogs, Shih Tzu, Boxers, and Boston Terriers would do better on a leisurely stroll.
Breeds that have shorter legs such as Bassett Hounds, Dachshunds, Corgi are not ideally suited to running. They are less likely to be able to keep up the pace especially if you are working on your speed.
Most all dogs love to run and if given a chance will take off at fast past. But, as discussed above, not all dogs have the stamina or endurance to keep up with a human athlete.
Luckily, there are plenty of dog breeds that love to run, and many of these have been used since antiquity to do just that. Sighthounds primarily were bred to be fast runners, and most of the working dog breeds are good athletes also.
Some are excellent long distance runners, and others are exceptional sprinters. You probably have seen sled dogs such as Siberian Huskies running along snow covered paths in the harshest of weathers or watch a greyhound dash at upwards of 43 mph.
Even if you were the fast person on the planet, you would quickly trail behind your greyhound who can outrun you by 15 mph and more.
Even if your dog is not at the top of the list for speed, many make excellent running partners. Don’t limit your search for the perfect dog runner simply by speed because many breeds do better because of their ability to move at a steady pace.
Here are 15 of the fastest dogs on the planet.
These Dogs make great running partners, but unless you plan to run every day, you will need to provide a place for them to run. (Fenced in Large Yard).
All of these breeds need at least an hour a day of vigorous exercise. Each breed has it’s specialty whether it is a long steady run or a fast run.
After the two of you get home, rest and recovery are in order.
Many people need to be concerned about joint health. The best ice packs for knees stay cold for at least twenty minutes because that’s how long it takes to get the benefits of icing.
Joint health is even more important for dogs because most of their weight is on the balls of their feet. Two or three minutes with an ice pack on each leg may be enough for most dogs.
Keep these basic tips in mind, and have fun out there!