How many of you bring your furry friend along on your runs?? I used to, a couple years ago. I should still, but my dog became so ADD on my runs it’s pretty annoying. He stops and sniffs EVERYTHING and crosses my path countless times to the point where he has literally tripped me! I guess I should have spent more time training him because I’m sure he’d love the exercise. When I was in college, I would take my dog on runs around my house. Now, I live in a busier city and the paths I run are crowded with other dogs…which is undesirable because my dog can be dog-aggressive.
If you do decided to run with your dog, coming from the vet tech side of me, I thought I would offer some tips.
1. Most vets I’ve talked to say to leave your mutt at home until they are about 9 months-1 year. This is because while they are under a year old, they are still developing – FAST! They grow quickly, especially the large breed dogs and taking them on long exercise runs can make them more prone to injuries. I’m not saying don’t walk your puppies, but for runners that are running long distances…it can be bad for the pups.
2. If you’re going for longer than 3 miles, bring water for your pooch, even if you don’t bring some for yourself. Even if you run by a pond/lake/stream etc, I would still try to not let your dog drink from that. They can get giardia, which is a parasite that can cause disgusting, gross diarrhea. Harder said than done; I do let my dog swim in the area lakes and he always takes in mouth fulls of water. They do make collapsable water dishes that fold up pretty small and can fit in a pocket – or on a little vest you can make your dog wear.
3. Be respectful of other runners! I’m a HUGE dog lover, obviously, I do it for a living. But come on people! When I’m running and I have to dodge your dog or jump over the leash….It just makes me mad! When you see people coming, tighten up the leash, if there’s not many people on the trail, just keep in mind you may see someone eventually. I don’t recommend the retractable leashes; it takes forever to pull your dog close and thus they can be dangerous. But there are some cool leashes for running with your mutt that you just tie around your waist so your hands stay free.
4. Keep distance in mind. I never ran with my dog more than, say, 5 miles, but some of my old co-workers would travel close to marathon distances with their furry pal claiming the dog did great and never complained. Test your pooch. If he doesn’t start lagging behind, I’d say your good to keep running. Be mindful though; maybe keep your path close to home, you never know what dangers are in the road that could injure you or your dog. Rocks, sticks, metal lawn edging….all can cause bad lacerations.
5. Please, oh please, vaccinate your dog!! You never know what animals or other pets have been on the path you’re on. A $15 vaccine can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in medical treatment for something. Rabies vaccine is required by law (and is also safe to have!), but I definitely recommend DHPP (distemper/parvo vaccine) – believe me, you don’t want your dog to get parvo. Lepto vaccine is also highly recommended – Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is found in the urine of wild animals, worse-if your pooch gets it, you can too, and you don’t want that shit. If you’re in the humid states, maybe think about Lyme vaccine in case your dog gets bit by a tick. You may not let your dogs go up to other dogs, but some diseases are picked up from the ground. So many people don’t pick their pet’s waste off the grass and your dog can get parasites, bacteria and diseases from that. Speaking of which..don’t forget to bring a plastic bag to pick up your own dog’s poop!
6. Start training when they’re young! Start training “HEEL” when they’re puppies. This will come in handy while having your older dog run beside you. When you do start to run with your dog, start with short distances to train them. I also recommend the Gentle Leader leash. It fits around their nose and if they pull, it forces them to turn their head and look at you which you take that opportunity to tell them “heel.” I’m a big fan of these leashes. If you’re looking for a laugh, start trying to train your dog to run while you’re on a bike! I had an eventful day with that once!
I hope some of these are insightful and I think its a great idea to get your dog exercise while getting your own!
How many of you run with your dog?? How far to you take them?