Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How To Run With Your Dog

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Before adopting our rescue dog, Leia, this year, I've never run with a dog before.

It might sound hard to imagine for dog lovers out there, but I didn't grow up being very athletic.  More on that HERE.  Our last dog was a corgi and even though those stubbies could move she didn't particularly enjoy it and as she got older it didn't take much for her arthritis to kick up.  When that happened she'd be immobilized for days.  

But Leia is different - she's a boxer mix which is a high energy breed even though you wouldn't know it by looking at her.  Most days you can find her on the couch and she really isn't motivated by much to leave it.  

Which makes it all the more important that she and I get out and move.  19 weeks into this pregnancy and I'm not motivated by much either especially after coming home from a busy 9 hour day to more cooking, cleaning and taking care of a child.  

As a boxer mix, Leia needs exercise and that's enough motivation for me to get her out there on the weekends - it is still too dark before and after work to run with her.

Now that I finally have a dog to run with, I've been trying to figure out how to do it.  Our first run was kind of a mess with her wanting to sniff, turn around or cut me off so I've had to do some research on how to make these outings easier on both of us.

  • Check with your vet to make sure your dog is up for the challenge.

  • Start out slow.  Try to run with your dog for 10 minutes at a time and them gradually add another 5-10 minutes over time until eventually your dog is keeping your pace.  

  • During the summer months run in the shade and before to bring water for the both of you if it is a long run.

  • In the winter, you might consider getting your dog a coat and putting protective gear on the feet to protect them from ice and rock salt.  Dogs will lick off the rock salt which can cause tummy troubles.  

  •  Don't assume every dog is a runner!  For some breeds, running is just too much exertion.  Older dogs may suffer from arthritis and shouldn't run.  Dogs with shorter legs might have a hard time keeping up.  When in doubt, check with your vet before starting a running program with your dog.

  • Hit the trails!  Trail running is easier on your legs and feet as well as your canine companions.

  • If you are going trail running, be sure your dog has flea and tick medicine and that you have bug spray.  Dogs should be up to date on heart worm medication as this is a mosquito born illness.

  • Have a plan for rewarding your dog for a job well done.  Treats should be given once he's calmed down so as not to risk vomiting.

Ready to try it?  I'd love to hear about your running adventures with your dog!