Running With Rover: Covering Long Distances With a Dog
Dogs make great running companions. Their eager faces are sure to get you in the mood, and a tired dog is a happy dog. However, there's a right way and a wrong way to turn your four-legged friend into a canine athlete. Here's everything you need to know.
The Right Dog
Firstly, you need to understand that some dogs cope with running better than others. Here are the best types to adopt if you're interested in a canine running buddy:
- Herders: Such as border collies and German shepherds.
- Pointers: Such as weimaraners and vizslas
- Retrievers: Such as Labradors and golden retrievers.
- Sled Dogs: Such as Siberian huskies and malamutes.
Such breeds will be able to cope with running over long distances when you introduce them to the sport properly.
The Right Age
It might seem like a puppy's limitless energy would lend itself well to running long distances, but it isn't very good for their overall health. This is because their bones are still growing; the repetitive impact experienced during running can harm their skeletal development, possibly leading to arthritis or even fractures.
The right age for a dog to start running will vary from breed to breed, so it's well worth going to the vet clinic for some advice. Instead of running, you can fill their puppyhood with socialisation training. Getting your dog used to being around other people and animals will help once you hit the trail.
The Right Distance
You won't have started running 10 miles right off the bat, and your dog shouldn't either. One thing to remember is that, ultimately, your dog just wants to please you; they'll run for as long as you do, even if it's too much for them.
That's why it's vital to take it steady. Start by running a mile at a time several times a week. After a few weeks, at in a weekly run of around 3-5 miles, then continue to steadily increase your distance. Remember to give your dog plenty of time to warm up.
The Right Route
Ideally, you'll want to spend as much of your time running on grass or along a trail. This is good for both you and your dog, since the harder nature of tarmac is less forgiving than grass or dirt. However, this isn't always possible, so, if you will be running mostly on roads, remember to inspect your dog's pads after each run. If they look a little raw, let them heal for a week or two, then buy some doggy running boots to protect them in the future.
Additionally, try to run somewhere shaded during the summer months. Dogs don't sweat like us, instead they cool themselves by panting and by dispersing heat through their feet. These aren't very efficient ways of cooling the body, so it's possible for them to overheat. If you'll be running longer than eight miles at a time, consider bringing a collapsible bowl so your dog can get some water during a break.
Your dog will love doing running with you, and it's always nice to have some canine companionship as you slog it out. Just follow this guide to make sure you do it right.