A few years ago I started running as a way to help me deal with stress and become healthier. Over the past few years my love for running has grown and it was something I wanted to share with my future dog. So when I adopted Neville, this was something I really wanted to incorporate into his new life with me. Luckily, Neville loves running as much as I do, he gets excited when he sees me put my running clothes on and loves going to parkrun. From my time running with Neville, I have picked up a few tips to pass onto anybody else thinking of running with their dog.
It is important not to introduce your dog to running when they are too young. If you have a puppy you want to run with, it is best to wait until their growth plates in their bones have closed, this is normally around 6 months to a year old (depending on breed). This is because of the force that will be travelling through their joints and introducing running too early can increase their risk of joint problems in the future. If you have an older dog, it is always best to get them checked over by their Vet to ensure they are healthy and have no issues which could affect them running. I was lucky to rescue Neville when he was 2 and could take him running straight away!
It is important to have the correct equipment. A well fitting comfortable harness and a strong lead is a must. Neville used to wear a fabric harness but it didn’t fit too well so I invested in a RuffWear Front Range harness. It adjusts in 4 places so it fits perfectly. Initially, a normal lead is fine but I found my arm and shoulder muscles hurt after a while from holding the lead. So I invested in the EzyDog Road Runner lead, it can be worn around your waist so you are hands free and has a shock absorber part to the lead.
Food and Water
This varies between runners and their dogs, it is even more important with larger and deep chested breeds. I don’t like giving Neville his breakfast before a morning run and I tend to wait at least 20 minutes after a run before feeding Neville, which is about how long it takes me to cool down and do my stretches. On longer runs or when it is hotter, I carry water and offer small amounts in a cupped hand to Neville to have a drink. It is important not to let them gulp too much water. Some people like to fuel their dog while running, I don’t think I run far enough to warrant this but I always carry a few treats to reward good behaviour like I would do on a walk, such as coming back when called.
It may be worth considering adding a joint supplement to help your dog maintain healthy joints.
Plan your route. I always try to run somewhere where I can let Neville off the lead for a bit of free running. Neville is able to run a lot further if he can run off lead, so he can sniff and run as he likes. In the hotter months, I will try to run near a bit of water where Neville can jump in and cool off when he gets too hot.
Build Up The Mileage
It is important when you first introduce your dog to running to start off small and build the mileage slowly. Start off doing 1 to 2 mile runs two times a week and build the length by 0.5 to 1 mile each week. This may not suit every dog so monitor your dog while increasing the length and reduce if your dog cannot cope.
Finally, make sure your dog is having fun, reward them for their pawsome runs with you! Have fun!
Beth & Neville xx