Running with a partner can not only increase your motivation to stick to your training but also adds additional enjoyment to your run. In the Life Of Tri household, we have the benefit of a four-legged running partner, in our dog Monty.
He is a reluctant runner but does love being outdoors, and you can visibly see the enjoyment when he finally gets going. The benefit of running with a dog is that they will never cancel a session because of bad weather or other commitments, and never complain if it’s a hill reps session.
Here are our tips for ensuring you run with your pooch safely:
Know you breed – Certain breeds of dog are better suited for distance running than others. Working dogs are built to run long distances while others are not. Do your research or speak to your vet if in doubt. A list of breeds that make good running partners can be found at dogbreedinfo.com.
Consult your vet – People are advised to consult a doctor before starting an exercise programme and a similar approach should be considered when starting to run with your dog. Never run with your dog until they are at least a year old, but if in doubt again speak to your vet.
Teach your dog to walk to heel – if your dog can walk to heel the transition to running at your side will be easier and allow for safer running. This stops the dog from darting from side to side, increasing the risk of tripping for you and others.
Build up slowly – Like anyone starting a new training programme, you should build up slowly with your dog. Consider a structured approach like the couch to 5km, making adjustments along the way depending on the dog’s ability. Remember your dog will be used to running around in the park, but these will be short bursts so you will need to build up their endurance.
Ensure your dog does their business first – just like you will need to use the toilet before exercise, so will your dog. Take them on a 10 min walk first, allowing them to have a sniff around and an explore. As soon as you start running you want them focused, and this is difficult to do with a full bladder.
Remember your poo bags – because things don’t always go to plan
Use a harness & running lead – We have a preference to use a harness which ensures there is no stress on the dog’s neck. If you have a reluctant runner to begin with, a harness will allow you to encourage the dog with a slight pull from the body and not the neck.
Have plenty of water breaks – Either carry water with you, or try to arrange a route that has plenty of opportunity to stop for water. This could be rivers, lakes or even places where you know shops have water outside for dogs.
Consider the temp/weather – remember dogs don’t sweat to regulate their body temperature and if the weather is very hot you will be increasing the risk of them overheating. Go at cooler times of the day, either early morning or later in the evening.
Enjoy – your furry friend will enjoy it, and it’s an excellent way to combine their exercise and yours. Just remember to allow them time to explore and use their nose beforehand or on a separate walk.