Are people telling you to find a gym buddy and to finally start that workout routine of yours? Well, this is one way to do it! Unless you’re the proud pet-parent of a French Bulldog or a Bassett Hound (did you name him Droolius Caesar?), you likely have a pawfect furry companion to get your fitness groove on.
This is an excellent opawrtunity to blend your workout time with your dog’s exercise time, to bond and be more in nature, and to stimulate your dog’s brain too. However, as fun and exciting as this plan may be, you need to brace yourself and your pooch for the habit. Follow these key steps for safe, fun, and wiggle-inducing jogging sessions with your four-legged compawdre!
Always warm up first
No matter if you have an eager Belgian Malinois or a perky playful Pittie by your side, every dog, just like every pet-parent, needs a good warmup. It’s not the best of ideas to immediately sprint off into the sunrise, as you and your pal are both much more injury-prone at the earliest stages of your run. Start your jog by walking, which will also give your dog plenty of time to do his business, sniff around, get that morning gossip column in the bushes out of the way.
Once you’re ready to start, pick a slower tempo at first, especially if this is a first run for you as a pair, to make sure your fuzzy pal is following your lead and able to keep up. Some of those always fun games you can use to warm up include tug (a favorite among super-energetic breeds), and you can use a few treats to practice those gymnastics movements, including jumping, moving in circles, crawling, and the like.
Choose the right gear
Safety must always come first, so take the time to choose the right protective pieces and wearables both for you and McDoggo. For starters, use high-quality gym wear such as leggings and tops that are made of durable, moisture-wicking materials, but also sneakers that keep your ankles supported and protected. After all, your pooch is still on the learning curve, the right gear can mean the difference between a twisted ankle or a mere stumble when he tugs the leash.
While we’re at it, make sure you use a leash for your dog that’s both long enough and sturdy enough – none of that flexi stuff so that your Jimmy Chew can run off after that innocent burger-holding passerby. A hands-free option is good as long as you can trust your pet not to pull too hard and cause you to tumble instead of jog.
Stay hydrated – both of you!
Before we tackle your water intake, a word of caution: do not let your dog have a huge meal before you head for a run. Just like you wouldn’t enjoy having your breakfast jump around your belly, your dog can experience all kinds of discomfort and might be at risk of canine bloat (also known as gastric torsion). On that note, you should also dose his water intake to prevent dehydration and overheating.
Always bring ample water for your run, in case you don’t have access to any water fountains in the park where you jog. Depending on the length of your run, you’ll quickly figure out the optimal amount for you and Furcules. A pocket full of treats is also a great idea if you’re teaching your pet-pal to run and pay attention to you for the first time to give them an occasional, albeit small reward!
Mind the paws
Scooby, unlike you, doesn’t have any sneakers on, and running on pavement, or any kind of coarse ground can ultimately cause all kinds of pawblems. If you enjoy hiking with your dog, you probably know how tough stepping through broken branches and moving across steep terrain can be on her pads. Since they are prone to cuts and scrapes, there’s a possibility for infections if you don’t spot and treat them in time.
Before you run and hike, however, make sure that his claws are trimmed and that they won’t cause any issues, because a broken nail can also be a risk for infections. After a run, check your pet’s paws for any foreign objects lodged between the toes and in that lovely fur, especially during the tick season. Use a pad-moisturizer that’s pet-friendly and recommended by your vet to treat those scrapes after a long run!
Have a chat with your vet
Finally, you may have plenty of experience as a dog parent, and this might not be your first rodeo even with running with your dog, but getting some breed and dog-specific tips can be truly helpful to master the art of that healthy habit of yours.
Jogging with your pooch is an exciting way to stay in shape and make your dog extremely happy at the same time, with virtually no effort at all. Keep these tips in mind, always seek advice from a vet who knows you and Mittens McScruffy, and you’ll look forward to every run in the future!