So you want your dog to be your running buddy, but where to start? Before you start your workout routine, it’s important to make sure that you have the correct equipment to make running enjoyable for both you and your dog! Your dog can greatly affect your health as your running partner!
The type of collar or harness that you use for your dog is very important. For your running partner, a collar is as important to him as your set of running shoes is to you. Sometimes the type of collar needed is determined by how well your dog is trained.
The best collar for running is just a regular buckle collar. It will not apply unwanted pressure if your dog is not pulling, and it is a lightweight and non invasive option. Make sure that any collar you choose for your dog is the right size and does not have any rough areas that can hurt your dog. Examine the collar when you snap the leash on each time you go out to double check that there are no weak areas, tears, or cracked and damaged buckles. By doing a quick inspection, you will know that the collar will hold tight and keep your dog secure during a run.
If your dog bolts suddenly while running, or pulls so hard that you can’t even focus on your run, avoid resorting to choke or prong collars. Instead do all that you can to work on training your dog so that these collars aren’t necessary for your workout. Both choke and prong collars can seriously hurt a dog, especially if yanked on during a run.
If you are struggling with a pulling dog, a head harness (or head halter) might be the best option for you. Choose the type of harness that wraps over the face and muzzle and connects to the lead at the back of the head. This is a much better option for the pulling dog than a choke collar or a harness that attaches under the chin, because it causes no pain. It just makes your dog uncomfortable if he is pulling while wearing it.
Traditional harnesses are a good option if your dog has a weak windpipe, if the head is smaller than the neck (as seen in some bulldogs), or if he has other neck problems. For regular dogs harnesses may not be the best option for a workout for a few reasons.
First, harnesses are designed for dogs to wear while pulling, whether it be sleds, carts, or weights. Simply by putting a harness on your dog, the pulling may be encouraged because of the center of gravity shift. The second reason that a harness is not the ideal is that it covers more area of your dog’s skin, and thus can be more likely to leave chaffing and sores in tender areas. The final thing to consider is that harnesses can sometimes be difficult to put on your dog correctly. If not used correctly, your dog could slip out, or be injured during use.
However, do keep in mind that in some cases traditional harnesses are the best option for your dog. Just weigh the pros and cons when deciding whether or not a harness is right for you. It is important to always make sure that you can always fit two fingers comfortably between the collar or harness and your dog’s skin so that you know it isn’t too tight.
Many joggers like to have their dogs on extendable leashes during a run. This is definitely not ideal. Because these contraptions have moving parts, they can get stuck or damaged easily. A regular 6 foot lead is your best option. You should never want your dog to be more than 6 feet away from you at any point during your workout. Many leash laws also specify that the lead should not be longer than 6 feet.
When you let your dog farther than 6 feet away, you are giving up a lot of control and your dog will be paying more attention to his surroundings, and less attention to you. Follow the law, and keep your dog safe by just using a regular 6 foot lead.
Here are a few other pieces of equipment to consider when making your dog your workout buddy! Consider getting a cheap treadmill for you to run on if you live in an area where it’s very hot outside. Since most dogs are pretty hairy, if you force your dog to run with you outside in the heat, he could develop heat stroke and dehydration very easily. Also since he is running “barefoot” hot asphalt can burn his feet badly, especially with extended exposure. Even though the pads of his feet are designed to insulate in cold temperatures, they can be burned in extreme heat. You can also teach your dog to run on the treadmill, but watch out, because if you do he might become addicted to it!
Another thing that shouldn’t be forgotten on a very long run is that dogs need to drink! Around half way through the run (or several times throughout) you should offer your dog some water. Don’t give him too much: just a few swigs to get him through without having to worry about dehydration. And of course when you get home, a nice bowl of ice water will be very appreciated.
When you decide to run with your dog, use common sense and figure out what the best equipment for running is for your dog. Every dog is different and has individual needs. Keep running a fun experience for both you and your dog, and you can enjoy it for years to come!
This is a guest post by Emma Green who is a resident of Southern Utah. She is passionate about dogs, health, and does some writing for treadmillreviews.com. Feel free to contact her with any questions about dogs and exercise at firstname.lastname@example.org