Now that we are finally enjoying some better weather it is lovely to see some people enjoying a run with their dogs. This can be a great way to exercise with your pet but there are some things to keep in mind to help avoid injuries and to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Firstly, it is important to mention that not all dogs are built for running! Some breeds of dogs are not put together to be able to go for a run without being at increased risk of injury. Of course little bursts of excitement are completely natural for all dogs however prolonged running activity is not for everyone. The types of dogs that are not well suited include long backed dogs with short legs such as Dachshunds, Shih tzus and Basset Hounds. Dogs with short muzzles that as a result find it harder to breathe, pant and cool themselves down (known as brachiocephalic breeds) are also not well suited to running. These include Pugs, French and English Bulldogs, Pekingese and Boston Terriers. Keep in mind that giant and heavy build breeds will take far more concussive impact through their joints when running so this type of exercise is not really appropriate for these guys either. Any dog that has orthopaedic complications (problems with their joints) or is over weight is better suited to gentle exercise regimes without the prolonged concussive impact of going for a run.
The age of your dog is also an important consideration. It is important that young dogs’ skeletons have developed and matured before they become your running buddy. This has usually taken place by 12-18 months of age. Similarly, older dogs may well find running overly intensive.
Once you are happy your dog is able to run with you, time to prepare for your run! Try to leave a gap of 1-2 hours before and after the run when feeding your dog. Also, just like us, dogs benefit from a warm up and cool down either side of the run. Keep your dog on the lead or walking with you for the first 10-15 minutes to allow their muscles to warm up and engage. Repeat this protocol after your run to help prevent muscles becoming stiff and sore. Finally, remember to bring water for your canine running buddy and poo bags of course!
Running on the road is highly concussive which has greater impact on joints so plan a route where you can run on grass or softer track. It is best to run with your dog off lead somewhere it is safe to do so, so that they are able to establish a comfortable easy running pace; and sniff and toilet when they need to. Remember this is their run too!
Also choose the time of day, route and length of run carefully – on hot days, it is worth taking it easy and maybe saving runs for cooler days, or early mornings and late evenings. If your pooch is new to running, start with shorter runs and build up slowly, allowing their strength and fitness to improve gradually.
Keeping these guidelines in mind will help you and your dog enjoy this activity together whilst reducing the risk of injury. Happy running for bipeds and quadrupeds alike!