Wednesday, January 9

Running with your Dog

I will be running in my first 1/2 marathon in February, when I started my training, I decided to do it with my dog.  Well, the smaller runs.  I will only allow Neville to run up to 4 miles or a little over, any runs over that, I do not include him.  But at first as I was conditioning myself and him, we ran together every run.  It made me start to notice how many people run with their dogs, I also started to hear from neighbors, Vets, pet store employees and friends very frightening stories of people running with their dogs.  Because of these stories or people that I have seen, I wanted this to be a topic of discussion. 

When I decided to start running with Neville the first thing I did was talk to my Vet about it.  I did this to make sure it would be okay and the distance was appropriate for him.  That should always be your first step.  There are dogs that would have problems running for one reason or another.  There are also dogs that can run just fine, but the owners may be pushing them to go too far.  For instance, I was told of a young Pit Bull running 10 miles per day.  I don't know if that is all at once or broken up into twice a day, but either way, it is too much.  Unless your dog is training for something specific or your Vet has said this is okay (which this dog's did not), you should not go this type of distance with your dog.  Walking is one thing, but to run 10 miles is a lot.

If your dog has not been a runner and you decide to start running with them, remember they have to condition the same way you do.  They cannot go from not running to running 4-5miles no problem, they have to work up to it.

I think that many people perceive dogs as a sort of running machine.  But just because they run and jump and play in the park and seem to go and go and go, they are not machines and their hearts can and will give out.  That is why we as dog parents have to step in and pace them.  Stop the play at the park for water breaks, make them sit out and rest at the beach and find a good pace and distance for running.  Just because a dog is high drive or hyper, does not mean they the endurance to run long distances.  Endurance is something you have to build.  Their drive is something you have to focus.

I truly enjoy my runs with my dog, he is still learning how to run with me, but it a great feeling to be connected in that way.  I also feel like the exercise level is right for him and he is benefiting from it.  My concern when he is with me is always him, I know I can run it so it is a matter of if he can or not.  Here are a few of the things I consider:  Is the distance right for him?  Will the path, trail or route through the city be safe for his paws and for him?  Is the temperature cool enough?  Will he enjoy it?

If you run with  your dog, make sure you are considering their safety.  I don't think any of the people I have heard about or seen have done anything out of neglect or cruelty, I believe they think they are doing what is best for their dog.  And some may be.  But many are not.  Don't make a horrible mistake out of ignorance, talk to your vet, make sure your exercise routine is good for your dog and most important, make sure you both enjoy it!