Tips on Training Your Dog to Run a Race with You
Whether you are a novice or seasoned runner, a dog can make a great running partner. He won’t cancel a running date on you; he’ll motivate you throughout the miles, and he won’t mind your music selection. Not to mention, you never hear about a runner being attacked on a trail if a dog is with her!
However, going for a run with your dog can be harder than experienced dog runners make it look. It’s easy for a dog to trip up your steps, sending you crashing to the concrete. Dogs are also easily distracted and can pull you off course. A darting squirrel, a quick bunny, or even a bird can distract your pup. All of this adds up to a run more stressful than relaxing.
Before heading out for a few miles, make sure you have prepared your dog for the experience. If your goal is to have him run regularly with you, even partaking in dog-friendly races, you will need to invest time in training him to run!
Tips on Training Your Dog to Run
Your dog must be leash trained to become a great running buddy. You will be able to run with him off-leash, too, but he needs to be dependable on-leash. This starts with patience on your part, and a pocket full of training treats, too. You will also need a 2-3 foot leash so your pup is close to you at all times. Follow a basic leash training guide to get the job done.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Start and end every run with a 5 minute walk. This gives your dog time to relieve himself and prepare for the run, and time to cool down and lower his heart rate afterword.
Don’t throw your dog straight into a 5k. Start him out with a mile or so. Then you can begin to increase the distance just as you would for yourself. If you aren’t running every run with your dog, make sure you keep him increasing miles at a slow and steady pace.
Sign Up for a Race
If your dog can stay focused during your runs, go ahead and take the plunge with a dog-friendly race! There will be many distractions, so have some treats on hand!
Always Look Out For The Following
Dehydration: Dogs can only cool themselves by panting and sweating through the pads of their feet; they don’t sweat. That means, they need to intake more water to keep themselves hydrated and cool during a run.
Paw Pain: Paws should be checked after every run to inspect for an blisters, cuts, or tenderness.
Fatigue: If you notice that your dog is glassy-eyed, foaming at the mouth, or holding his or her head or tail down, stop the run immediately.
Keep in mind your dog’s age: Puppies shouldn’t run long distances until over 6 months old, and older dogs may need a slower pace or more rest breaks during a run.