Running Safety with Dogs
Running is a great form of exercise, not only for humans but for dogs too. What’s even better is that it’s a form of exercise that you and your dog can do together. No more trying to do sit-ups while having your dog climb on top of you and lick your face, with running you can get your fitness on at the same time with little distraction (ok, maybe a squirrel or two). However, just like any other activity you do with your dog, it’s important to understand the necessary steps to making it a safe and enjoyable experience for all.
Start out slow
First and foremost, start out slow. If you’re a runner but have never taken your dog with you before, chances are your dog is not at your pace. Before you dive into sprinting down roads left and right, ease your dog in with plenty of nice long walks. Gradually increase the distance and pace of your walks as time goes on, mixing in sprints every ten minutes or so. This will help to build your dog’s endurance so that it can keep up with you on longer, consistently paced runs.
Consider the weather & surface
Most people don’t like running in extreme temperatures (like that Carolina summer heat), and neither do dogs. If possible, schedule your runs in the morning or evening. Not only are the temperatures cooler, but the pavement is too for your dog’s paw pads. If you have to run during the day, make sure the temperature is suitable for your dog and try to run on a softer, cooler surface such as grass or dirt.
Take a break
You may not want to stop and your dog may seem like it doesn’t want to stop, but it’s important to take a few breaks during each run. This will give your dog (and you) a chance to catch its breath, relax, and get ready for the next stretch of running ahead. Beginning and ending your runs with warm up and cool down walks are also a great way to keep your dog’s muscles loose to prevent injury as well.
Remember your supplies
Have you ever been on a run and found yourself dying for a sip of water? Your dog will get to that point, too, so it’s extremely important to make sure you have the supplies to allow it to drink; a collapsible bowl and bottle of cool water will do the trick. If you’re a night runner, be sure to dress yourself and your dog with reflective gear so that passing cars can see you. Last but not least, don’t forget the poop bags! You never know when your dog will make you stop because it has to go.