Recently we looked at the advantages of running with your dog, especially for lone women runners. Family protection dogs from A&T Trained Dogs are the perfect running companion and not only to keep you safe. As well as providing reassurance and protection, running with your dog will benefit both of you by strengthening your bond, keeping you fit and healthy, and stopping that extra weight from creeping on. A good run will also improve your dog’s behaviour around the house by burning off some of that excess energy and providing lots of stimulation.

With the New Year just around the corner, what better time to look at getting fit with your four legged friend. Here are our top ten tips to get you off and running:

  • Get the right breed – flat faced (or brachycephalic) dogs may look cute, but they simply don’t have the airways needed for running. Similarly, short legged dogs may struggle to keep pace with you, despite their boundless energy. For a running mate, look for a medium or large dog, such as a retriever, Labrador, collie or springer, or any medium sized mongrel. Never run with a puppy, as their joints aren’t fully developed yet, and be careful running with older dogs who may be starting to suffer from the effects of age.
  • Start slowly – just like you, your dog can’t just start running from scratch, so you will need to work up to it with a few long walks with a short jog or two built in along the way. It may take a while for your pooch to match your pace, but you will get there with practice and soon be running in step all the way.
  • Stay in control – it is much more important to stay in complete control of your dog when running, as things will happen so much faster. A&T Trained Dogs can train you and your dog to develop the communication and commands you need to run confidently together.
  • Choose the right route – just like people, dogs get bored pounding the same old pavements, so choose interesting and stimulating running routes. Running on grass or dirt trails will be easier on the joints for both of you!
  • Carry water – your dog will need plenty of water, even on a cold day, so make sure you carry enough for both of you, as well as a convenient way for them to drink, such as a folding bowl.
  • Watch your dog carefully – dogs are full of enthusiasm and eager to please, so they will try to keep going for as long as you want them to, and if you let them, they will run until they drop. It is important to watch for signs of fatigue and give your dog a break, or even cut your run short, if you think they are struggling.
  • Pick the right lead – you should choose a fixed lead of around six foot long for running, attached to a flexible collar or better still a specialist running harness. Don’t be tempted to use a retractable lead, as your dog will want to wander off and will not be safe to run with.
  • Pre and post run – just like you, your dog will need to warm up and cool down as part of your running routine, otherwise they risk muscle injuries. Don’t be tempted to reward your dog with a treat as soon as you get back as they will still be calming down. Let them settle a little before you give them food or they may be sick.
  • Check their paws – dogs don’t have the same protection from high tech trainers that you do, so make sure you check their paws after every run. Small cuts and abrasions can soon become infected if they are not treated promptly. In the summer, beware of burns from hot pavements and roads.
  • Food for thought – unless you are training for a marathon together, chances are your dog won’t need extra food when they run with you. Dog foods are designed for an active life and feeding them too much will just undo all your efforts in keeping them trim and healthy.

Learning to run with your dog takes a little time and effort from both of you, but it’s well worth it in the end, as you pull on your shoes and head out together for another rewarding run.