If there’s one similarity between exercise and pet ownership, it’s that they can lead to people living a longer, healthier life. A lot of publications highlight the benefits of regular exercise and pet ownership. Brisk walking for a total of 75 minutes per week, if done consistently, leads to a gain of almost 2 years to one’s life expectancy. On the other hand, owning a dog has long been associated with longer life and better recovery among people who have undergone major health events. Imagine the health benefits you can enjoy—and the fun you can have—if you commit to running with your canine companion.
The best part is that your dog can also benefit from regular exercise. It’s estimated that more than half of all dogs are obese or overweight, and this doesn’t reflect well on their health. Just like in humans, excess weight or obesity makes dogs prone to certain health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and heart and respiratory diseases. As such, introducing your dog to an exercise regime and proper eating habits can help your pet enjoy a healthier future. It’s good to know that going on a run a few times a week with your dog can help you spend more fun-filled years together.
But before you put your running shoes on, it’s important to take precautionary measures to ensure that your next exercise session will only stand to benefit you and your furred family member. Here are some of the things you need to know before running with your pet dog:
Check if your dog is a runner
Before you start buying running gear for your pet, like collapsible dog bowls, for example, you should first ensure that running is the right activity for your dog. It’s important to note that not all dogs are runners. Your canine companion’s breed, build, age and health are essential considerations to keep in mind to determine if running is the best form of exercise for them.
Brachycephalic dogs, for example, may not benefit from physically strenuous activities. It’s also a bad idea to run with a very young dog, as this can damage their developing bones and joints. Small dogs may not be able to keep up with you if you go at a fast pace, while bigger dogs may be more prone to hip dysplasia. To ensure your dog’s safety, it’s always a good move to consult a vet before you start running with your pet. A professional can give you advice on how to best introduce the activity to your furred companions, as well as the preparations you need to take before every run.
Make sure you have the right gear
You’ll need to take a few items with you if you’re planning on running with your dog. You and your dog should have adequate and up-to-date tick protection. At the same time, you need to pack items that you might need along the way, like a poop bag, treat bag, and a water bowl that your pet can use during water breaks. It’s important to put on sun protection as well to avoid skin damage and disorders that are caused by extended exposure to harmful UV rays.
Teach basic commands to your running buddy
Taking a misbehaved dog on a run is only asking for trouble. Can your dog walk by your side without a leash, do they come to you when called, and can they follow commands like “sit” and “stay” while outdoors? Also, can they leave objects alone when you tell them to? Teaching your dog these commands will help ensure their safety while you’re exploring the great outdoors. If they’re still not familiar with these commands or are hesitant when executing them, then you and your dog may benefit from attending an obedience class.
Mind the weather and your choice of trails
Choosing dirt trails over asphalt roads is healthier for your dog’s joints and limits your pet’s exposure to busy roads. However, check that your path is not frequented by wild animals that can hurt your pet, like foxes and deer. Check the weather as well, as it’s not advised to run with your dog if the sun’s too hot or if it’s too cold out. Extreme temperatures make you and your pet more prone to heat- or cold-related disorders and injuries.
Check your dog after every run
Finally, at the end of every run, make sure to inspect your running buddy for ticks, injuries to their paws, or any other unwanted souvenirs that you might have picked up along the way.
Some people take up running as a hobby. Others do it to improve their health or to relieve stress. Whatever your reason may be for running, taking your furred friend with you can help you better enjoy the activity and practice it more consistently. This, in turn, can spell plenty of benefits not only for you but also for your four-legged running partner.