Tips for Running with Your Dog
Dr. Lauren Talarico BS, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology/Neurosurgery)
As a veterinary neurosurgeon, I have devoted my life to studying the canine brain and how it works. Similarly to the human brain, endorphins that stimulate happiness and fulfillment are released when an emotional connection is established between a canine and their human. Running is one of the best forms of exercise for both you and your dog. Before you consider beginning a running program with your dog, there are several important things to take into consideration.
CHOOSING A “RUNNING” BREED
Not all of us are naturally born to run. However, there are many dog breeds that are! Here are a few breeds that would make phenomenal running companions: Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Greyhounds, Viszlas, Pitbull/Pittbull mixes, Dobermans, Standard Poodles, and any medium-large mix breed dog. I do not recommend running with toy breed dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzu etc. I also do not recommend running with brachycephalic breeds of dogs (aka: dogs with short muzzles) such as Pugs, English/French Bulldogs or extremely large breeds such as Great Danes and Mastiff breeds. Just because I have a list of recommended “natural born running breeds,” it doesn’t mean that the occasional Boxer and small Terrier won’t make a great running partner.
TRAINING FOR A LEASH RUN
I recommend making sure your puppy/dog is very well socialized and used to walking right next to you on a leash prior to starting a running routine. I also recommend that you run with your dog on a harness rather than a leash and collar, as excessive pulling on the neck region (cervical spine) can lead to many problems in the future.
During your run, you want to ensure that the leash is kept somewhat loose but that your dog is directly by your side. I do not recommend running with your dog’s leash around your waist. If he/she is startled or becomes excited about a new smell, they can easily pull you down and all control is lost. Having the leash in your hand with a firm grip is best.
TRAINING IS KEY!
Even though your pup may seem full of energy and can play for hours in the park, running at a consistent pace for a prolonged period of time can take a toll on your pooch. It is important to build up mileage just as you would for yourself. I recommend starting with a 1-2 mile run at a pace that is comfortable for you both. If you notice them slowing down, consider stopping for some water and walking the rest of the way.
THE DOGGIE BLING!
I recommend using a Whistle activity monitor on all dogs before they begin a running program. Whistle provides a way to quantify precisely the amount and intensity of a dog’s daily exercise. This amazing device allows me to tailor specific exercise programs for each dog based on their progress and skill level.
Please stay tuned for more doggie running tips. Hopefully you and your pooch will follow along and create a regime that works best for you! Dogs really do make the best Co-Pilots.
Feb 23, 2015