Ready to lace up those running shoes? Running with your dog provides your pup with much-needed exercise. It’s also a great way to bond with your dog, reinforce training, and even a great motivator for your own fitness goals.
But before you hit the trail, follow these five Fitdog tips to ensure a safe – and fun! – run is had by all.
Follow your dog’s lead
Stop to rest whenever your dog indicates fatigue, such as if he begins to drag behind or pant heavily. Like people, dogs need regular practice in order to improve their running pace and distance abilities. Don’t be afraid to cut the entire run short, especially in the beginning. Your dog’s health and safety should come first. You can always try again the next day!
Bring lots of water – and then pack some more
Dogs don’t sweat, so water is essential to help them cool off. It’s also important to know the signs of dehydration. Symptoms include lethargy, dry mouth, and vomiting. The ASPCA provides a full list of dehydration symptoms here. Bring your dog to the veterinarian immediately if she exhibits any of these symptoms.
Have full control over your dog
We recommend 4 foot leashes for running. The shorter length helps you keep your dog by your side and not pulling in front of you. Avoid retractable leashes, which limits your control over your dog and can cause tripping.
Make sure your dog is on monthly flea & tick medication
Off road running trails make for fun places for fleas and ticks to hide and thrive. Monthly medications won’t keep fleas from landing on your dog, but they will prevent fleas from staying and multiplying. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Fleas
Avoid running on cement or asphalt
These surfaces heat up during the summer and can cause painful paw blisters. Plus, running on the road is bad for your dog’s joints (and yours). If you do run on asphalt, we recommend Musher’s Wax, a dense natural wax to protect his paws.
This article was updated and originally posted on March 4, 2014.