This is a guest post from Liza, of 1 Fit Mutt. She runs with her Beagle x Australian Cattle Dog x Kelpie. Make sure you check out her site.
It’s very important to warm up before exercise and cool down after, for both dogs and humans. Warming up and cooling down can be as simple as jogging at a slower than usual pace with your dog before starting your main run. When going for a run with your dog, go at a slower, lighter jog or even just a brisk walk before picking up the pace. You will feel your muscles warming up and getting ready to work and the same will be happening to your dog.
How long your warm-up should be really depends on you and your dog’s individual requirements, but usually 5-10 minutes should be enough to get your dog’s body ready for more strenuous exercise (depending on how long and intense your running session will be).
There are plenty of benefits of warming up before dog exercise: –
1. Increased blood flow to the muscles and heart, reducing sprains and cardiac injuries.
2. Makes your dog’s muscles more supple and increases the elasticity of the ligaments.
3. Lets the body know its cardiovascular system will be working harder and will need greater oxygen intake.
4. Reduces risk of muscle injuries.
5. Gradually increases your dog’s heart rate before exercise.
If you launch into an intense run straight away, you may find that you get more cramps, you and your dog will be at a higher risk of spraining or pulling a muscle, and your heart won’t appreciate being forced to suddenly pick up the pace without having time to adjust and prepare. You and your dog could also experience more muscle soreness the day after the run. It’s better to warm up and decrease the risk of injury. If you or you dog get hurt you might be out of commission for longer than you’d expect and then it’s back to square one.
Just as warming up before your run is important, so is cooling down after. You can take light jog or a 5-10 minute walk after your main fitness session to cool down. Cooling down will allow your dog’s heart rate to gradually return to resting pace, your dog can catch its breath as the oxygen intake requirements go back to normal, and cooling down reduces post-run stiffness and soreness by assisting the removal of lactic acids.
Even if you warm up and cool down before and after your run, the two of you may still experience sore muscles the next day, especially if you’re just starting out your running program. If you or your dog is sore, take it easy until you feel better, even if it means changing your schedule up a bit. Ignoring your body now can lead to more problems later on. You will eventually learn how much you can push yourself and your pooch.