Should You Take Your Dog Running?

A dog can get a lot of joy from being your running partner, and even inspire you to lace up your sneakers on those days when you're dragging. Before you take him out on your running path, check the following factors to make sure his paws and endurance levels are up for your workout.

Check these factors:

Size 

Dogs with short muzzles or short legs often have trouble on long runs, but that doesn't mean you can't bring them out for a short, pace-controlled jog. Overweight dogs also might have trouble, so if you suspect your dog is overweight, consult with your veterinarian first.

Age 

If you have a puppy, wait until he has completed his first year's shot schedule so he's protected from the environment. Remember that they need intervals of training and rest to build stamina and let muscles and joints recover. Young dogs play in bursts, and tend to find everything a fun, interesting game. It's good to let them run around, but a long run isn't recommended, as their bones are still developing and soft. 

If you have an older dog, you'll probably want to make sure your run is noticeably enjoyable for him and he shows no signs of fatigue. 

Training 

Your dog needs to understand walking on a lead before he can run. Invest some time teaching him to heel and stay calm while on a leash. Start the runs slow, with frequent breaks, and build from there.

Remember, with a dog at any age, check with your veterinarian before taking them out to run.

Quick Tips

  • Think about the times of day you exercise. You can get an upset stomach when it happens too close to a meal, and so can your dog. Best take some time to digest first.
  • While you might want to let your dog guzzle water after a workout, it's actually best to offer a few sips to cool him down rather than giving him free access.
  • Keep in mind that darker-colored dogs and dogs with short muzzles will be affected by the heat and humidity faster than you will, so pay close attention for signs of dehydration or fatigue.

Detecting an injury

Your dog could hurt his paws or limbs while venturing outside, so it's best to look for these warning signs of an injury regularly:

  • Frequent rest stops
  • Limping
  • Heavy, continuous panting
  • Bowing legs
  • Yelping when you pick him up or move him

If you see any of these symptoms, take your pet to your veterinarian to make sure the problem gets taken care of.

A dog companion can make any run more special for both of you. Just make sure you keep it fun. Never run your dog to exhaustion, and remember to thank him by offering plenty of praise, belly rubs and hugs.