Are you the athletic sort? Good for you. Not so much? Well, there’s still hope.
Walking, of course, is the best overall exercise because it doesn’t take a gym or fancy equipment, and it’s low-impact, so most of us can do it. Walking the dog is good for you, and for your pooch.
But some dog breeds also make great running partners. And if you want to give your dog more of a workout, you can benefit as well.
First, make sure your dog is healthy enough to run and is a breed that is suited to running. Dogs prone to hip dysplasia, or who may have trouble breathing, like bulldogs, might not be suitable running partners.
Most mixed breeds don’t have these concerns. Most “working group” dogs are well-suited to running. Your vet can give your dog a clean bill of health and let you know if there are any issues with the breed being a running dog.
If your pooch hasn’t been leading an active lifestyle, you want to start slowly. Walk for 10-15 minutes, twice a day. Once your dog does well with that, try running for two minutes and walking for one, for up to 10 minutes. Over a period of weeks, you can gradually increase your distance and speed — for example, trying to go just 10 percent farther, or 10 percent faster, each week.
If you see your dog lagging, slow down. And be sure to build rest days into your schedule. Before you know it, your dog will be healthier and happier — and so will you.
Caveats: If you run at a time of day when visibility is low, use reflective gear, for yourself and your dog. Avoid running in the heat of the day, especially if you run on paved surfaces. Not only can the heat itself be hard on your dog, but the pads on their paws, even though they toughen up, can dry and crack on hot asphalt.
Finally, be sure you bring water and offer it to your dog regularly. Dogs can’t tell us what they need, so keep a close eye out for any signs of distress. If you notice panting, slowing down, foaming at the mouth, weakness, inability to stand, agitation or glazed eyes, cool your dog immediately by thoroughly wetting him with cold water and getting him into the shade or an air-conditioned area, if possible. If your dog does not improve in about 10 minutes, please seek veterinary assistance.
With these simple precautions, running can be great fun for you and your pet. Enjoy!