Is your dog your motivation for getting out of bed in the morning? Are you thinking about starting to run or fitness walk with your dog but not sure if you’ll hurt him, how far she can run, what equipment you will need? Here are some things to consider when running or walking with your dog.
Please note that I am not a veterinarian so please talk to yours if you have any concerns or want professional advice. This is information based on my experience running with my dog Jake, my 4 year old rescue puggle mix. I've provided links below to things I use with my dog. I have no affiliation to these companies and if you have other recommendations, I would love to hear them!
To Leash or Not to Leash
If you are in an area that allows it, and your dog won’t run mindlessly away chasing rabbits and squirrels like mine, then maybe you can run without a leash. I have to keep Jake leashed. With ChiRunning and ChiWalking, balanced arm swing is very important not only for efficiency but also to prevent injury. If you hold a leash in your hand, your form will likely become unbalanced, and over time could lead to injury. I highly recommend a hands free leash. This is the one I use.
I am very envious of those people who have pups that run gently beside them. Jake does not, although my training attempts continue. Picture the scene in The Grinch where the little tiny dog is trying to pull the great big sled. That dog is Jake and I’m the sled he is trying to pull. He is also a reactive dog and can at any time dart off in pursuit of a falling leaf, bird, or chipmunk. Pulling is great if you are running up a big hill and your dog is running up the hill with you. Not so great if you are running uphill and your dog is chasing something down the hill.
I spend a lot of time working with my dog to teach him not to pull, however I don’t have a magic answer. Using a gentle leader is incredibly helpful. I have to use this type of harness because Jake, being a puggle, has a thick neck and little nose and those nose leaders slip right off his head. If you do use a nose leader, allow your dog some time to get used to it.
If your dog is a puller know this - in order to really work on your running form, you will have to spend some time running without your dog. You can blame me when you leave Spot yelping at the door to go with you. Here is what I recommend. Go out for the first half of your run and then circle back and pick up your pup for the second half of your run. Jake has an injured leg and cannot run at this point so I go out for my run and then do my cool down walk with him.
In the summer or hotter climates be aware of the hot pavement. Test the pavement, if the pavement is too hot for your hand then it is too hot for your dog’s paws. I go out early or late in the day when the road is not so hot or head for the trails.
Always bring water for you and your dog. I wear this water belt and fold up a paper bowl which fits nicely into the pocket along with my cell phone. Then every mile I stop and give Jake a small drink from the bowl. I’ve made the mistake of giving him to much at once only to watch him vomit it back up. Also, a reminder for you to take a swallow of water every 10 minutes while on your run on hot days. It is better to take those swallows more often than wait too long and gulp down water, your stomach and body will thank you.
Enjoy your run with your dog and don’t try to set a personal record while out on your run. You will likely be stopping and starting more as your dog wants to sniff or pee or do doggy things. Let them. Also remember that just as you need to build up speed and distance, so does your dog. They will run right along with you because you are their world but it may not be good for them. Gradual progress is always best for both of you!
Walk smart. Run Happy. Breathe easy. You got this!