Dogs love to run. There is no doubt about it. Now that I am running shorter distances on most of my runs, I am more often able to include one of my favorite running partners, my dog. Yesterday she even did a sprint workout with me. For the first 3 or 4 sprints, she challenged me to keep up. After the first few, however, I had to shout words of encouragement ("Let's go girl, come on!) to keep her motivated. Then on the last sprint (8 total, about 120 yards each), she surprised me and stayed ahead of me. Or maybe I was slowing down more than I thought.
If you have a dog, and he or she is healthy enough to run, give it a shot. Be sure to break her in slowly, and just as you would a new runner, pay attention to her response and know when it is time to quit. Here are some more tips for running with your dog.
- Have her checked out by a vet first. Make sure there are no conditions that would limit her.
- Start out slowly and with short distances. I hear of people who take their dogs on very long runs. My Spots is only good for 3 or 4 miles right now.
- Bring some extra water, a bowl, and some treats/snacks. I find with Spots that if I can take a break and allow her to play in a creek for 2 minutes, she's good for another uninterrupted mile.
- While your dog might be obedient enough to run unleashed (mine is not), keep her leashed anyway. If is for her (and your) own good. But be mindful of where she is. If you go on one side of a tree, and she goes on another... you get the point.
- Watch for signs of overuse. Check your dogs foot pads regularly. If they appear torn or raw, stop running and see a vet. There are sprays and even boots that your dog can wear if this is an issue. If your dog appears sore (trouble getting up stairs, etc.), it could be a sign of arthritis or pad wear. Take it easy for a few days, and if it does not improve, see a vet.
- Watch for signs of overheating. Excessive panting, vomiting, drooling, are all signs that you should stop, rest, and hydrate.
Have fun out there with your dogs!