Running with your dog is a great way to exercise together. Running reportedly gives dogs many of the same physical and mental benefits as it does humans, The Washington Post reports. Not only does it keep dogs in shape, but it also may also deliver the same “runner’s high” that people experience after a long run, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
We all know dogs love to run and it’s important to make sure they’re getting enough exercise, but don’t forget to put safety first. These are our top safety tips for running with your dog.
Consult your veterinarian
Always talk to your vet before you start running with your dog or any other exercise. You might be a runner, but your pup may not be. Make sure you provide water for your dog and schedule regular breaks while exercising.
Consider age before running with your dog
Be careful not to start running with your dog too soon. A puppy’s joints and bones may not be fully formed, and high-impact exercise (like sustained running on a leash) is not appropriate at this age. Every dog’s timeframe for when they can start running is different, so it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian first. Learn more about dogs’ exercise needs at every age and when to introduce new types of exercise.
Check the weather
If it’s hot or humid, be sure to take regular breaks for both you and your pup, or choose a cooler time of day to go outside. Exercising in the hot sun carries the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat stroke is reportedly associated with temperatures of 106 degrees or higher. Some signs of heat stroke include rapid heart rate and excessive panting or drooling. When running with your dog, keep an eye out for signs of overheating.
Warm up before exercising
It’s also a good idea for both of you to warm up before running. Be sure to let your dog set the pace and proper distance for them, increasing both gradually.
Hit the trails
The sights and smells of of nature can make your run more enjoyable, so venturing out onto the trails might be a good idea when running with your dog. Trails can be easier for dogs to run on compared to asphalt. Hot asphalt can easily burn your pup’s feet, even if it doesn’t feel hot to you. If your dog will wear them, consider buying protective booties to prevent irritation from sticks and rocks on trails as well. If you are headed into the woods, remember to provide your dog with flea and tick protection.
Before hitting the trails, check out these tips for hiking with your dog.
Use a leash
For safety, keep your dog on a leash and run a bit behind or at least next to them, with some slack in the leash. This will allow you to have more control if your dog sees a rabbit or other woodland creature that they’d like to play with. A harness is more appropriate than a collar here.
For serious runners, you may want a runner’s leash that goes around your waist so that your dog is secured but your arms are free in case you trip and have to catch yourself.
Just like you need water while running, your pup does too. Bring enough water for both of you, and don’t forget a bowl for your dog, like this collapsible one that’s easy to store in a fanny pack or backpack during a run.
If running isn’t your favorite activity, there are many other ways to exercise with your dog. Check out this list of workouts you can do with your dog, either at home or outdoors.