- Make your favorite furry friend your go-to running buddy!
Pounding the pavement with your puppy can do more than put a smile on your face. In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology researchers found that dogs are even better than human friends at helping us cope with stress. Exercising with your pet improves its health as well by warding off joint issues, liver disease and diabetes. Aching to take Fido out for a jog? Follow these guidelines to make your pooch the perfect running partner. . .
- Physical First
Dr. Janet Grace of Five Points Animal Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., sees a number of pups who regularly run with their owners. Grace believes an exercise-specific checkup should have an orthopedic focus to determine any hereditary issues. For example, your vet will be able to tell if your dog’s ball-and-socket joints are prone to hip dysplasia. “If you start running with your pet, and he or she has looseness or laxity in the hip joint, the problem will only get worse,” says Grace. Be specific with the vet about your training plans so she can best assess your pooch’s preparedness.
Your dog’s age is another major consideration. “We do not want to take dogs running until they are skeletally mature,” Grace says, warning that the growth plate must be completely closed before our four-legged friends can stride safely. This may take one to two years, depending on breed. That’s not to say you should prevent your puppy from playing fetch in the park. “Let your dog be a dog,” Grace says. “Just don’t start any high-impact exercise until she’s ready.”
- Too Hot to Trot
“Dogs don’t sweat,“ Grace cautions. “The only way they can compensate is by panting, and at some point panting will not be enough to cool them down. Dogs will run with you until they collapse.” If the weather is warmer than 70 degrees, be extremely vigilant, keeping coat-length in mind. Siberian huskies will feel the heat much faster than Labradors. Even if you’re out for a run in ideal weather, stop if your dog wants to, and be sure to carry enough water for your comrade. Grace says, “You should never force your dog to do X number of miles.”
If the sun is baking the asphalt, it can also burn your dog’s delicate pads. Additionally, paws are susceptible to abrasion, Grace notes. That’s why owners should ease their often over-eager companions into an exercise regimen and allow their pads time to build calluses.
- Leashes and Loot
Doggie backpacks allow your pal to carry his own water and travel bowl. Stordahl says she often equips larger breeds with a pack, as they enjoy having a “job to do.”
If you notice Baxter has sensitive paws when it comes to ice, heat, snow or trail rocks, you can outfit him with protective doggie boots. Of course, some dogs will simply decide that footwear—be it yours or theirs—is only for chewing.
- Mutt Manners
Jennifer Chesak is a Nashville-based freelance adventure and travel writer with a passion for the marathon. Her schipperke, Fiver, demands to go along on Jennifer’s shorter training runs.