Who doesn't dream of a running partner who feels like going out in any weather, doesn't grumble, and by nature is extremely fun to run with? A dog is a born companion for running training, because it is a true motivator. We give you useful tips on how to make your four-legged friend the perfect training partner and what you should look out for when running with a dog.
The ideal training partner
Since dogs are long-distance trotters, running is basically very conducive to the dog's natural dispositions. However, not every four-legged friend enjoys extended runs equally: While breeds like Dachshunds, Pugs and Saint Bernards have difficulty with fast and long runs, hunting and herding dog breeds that enjoy running, such as the German Shepherd, Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Husky or Jack Russell, are perfect for challenging jogging.
The most important thing is that your dog is physically healthy and does not suffer from joint or heart problems - if in doubt, consult your trusted veterinarian before starting running training. This also applies to overweight and older dogs. Even in young animals, the musculoskeletal system is not yet stable enough for the additional strain. You should therefore wait with the running training until your dog is fully grown - with giant breeds this can take up to two years.
Preparation is the be-all and end-all
If you take your dog running, you have a double responsibility. In order for the running training to be stress-free, the four-legged friend must already have good basic obedience - this includes good leash leadership, retrievability and orientation to the owner, so that he can withstand the numerous environmental stimuli he encounters on the running track. Established rituals will help your dog get in the mood for running training - for example, putting on a running harness or giving a specific command. In addition, you should make sure that your four-legged friend does not start the running training with a full stomach, because especially large breeds are susceptible to the so-called gastric torsion when they make fast and hectic movements. Therefore, there should be at least two hours between your dog's last big meal and running. Give your dog a chance to do his business and sniff a little before the actual training - this way you can avoid unnecessary disturbing pauses during the run. You should increase the training volume only slowly and step by step, because even animal running beginners lack the necessary condition and strength for extended long-distance runs. In any case, you should consider the needs of your four-legged running partner and put your own performance requirements on the back burner for the time being.
Take good care of your dog
All in all, running involves more dangers for the dog than an ordinary walk. Cars, children, bicycles, other dogs - you must constantly expect these distractions during training. Despite the dynamic nature of running, you should remain calm and relaxed in every situation and keep a close eye on your dog. Pay attention to his body signals and take enough time to find the right speed for both of you. Even if your dog doesn't complain, you should give him a break from time to time. Clear signs of impending overwork include rapid and heavy panting, refusal to eat, lameness, a deep red tongue, pale oral mucous membranes, and extremely retracted flews. Because of their small number of sweat glands and their more or less dense fur, dogs cope much worse with heat than we humans do. Therefore, you should postpone running training on warm days to the early morning or late evening hours and always carry enough liquid for your animal running partner.
The ideal running route
If you are taking your dog for a run for the first time, you should choose a quiet route in a low-stimulus environment so that the animal can fully concentrate on the training without permanent distractions. In the summer, you should ideally choose a route that passes by a lake or stream, thus giving your dog a welcome refreshment. Also, keep in mind that your four-legged friend isn't wearing high-tech running shoes like you are, but is walking on un-cushioned and unprotected soles. So if you want to do your dog a favor, choose a route with a paw-friendly surface such as forest floor, meadow or sand.
Sensitive dog paws can quickly get sore on hard asphalt and gravel, and the same goes for salted and gritted trails in the winter. Who wants to go completely on the safe side, gives to its favourite a pair of dog Booties, which protect the paws like shoes. Since not all four-legged friends like the animal footwear, you can also use paw balm as an alternative to optimally protect and care for the sensitive paws during every run.
The right equipment for running training
If you regularly go running with your dog, instead of an ordinary collar you should use a chest harness that takes the pull off the dog's neck so that the cervical vertebrae cannot be damaged by abrupt movements. A special running leash with an expander will cushion your dog's jerky movements and changes of direction. You can attach it to a padded waist belt, which gives you the necessary hand and arm room for an ergonomic movement of the upper body. Also, keep in mind that when running in the dark, your dog needs to be as visible to other road users as you are - reflectors can help with this.
If you take these tips to heart and have some patience for your animal running companion, nothing should stand in the way of a wonderful six-legged running friendship!
Image Source: Hoka One One