Running is more fun with your best friend in tow

Dog in harness with runner

Running’s more fun with your dog

After what seems like an endless winter, we’re glad that spring has arrived at last. Warmer weather (hopefully!) and longer days make this season the perfect time to get out and about – and running is a great way to keep fit with our dogs. While some might be preparing for a gruelling marathon, we prefer something a little more sedate like a 5km jog around the park.

Just as you wouldn’t attempt to start running without doing the training first, it’s important to prepare your dog too.

A chat with the vet should rule out any health issues that could be exacerbated by vigorous exercise, including asthma, obesity or joint problems. Running could also be unsuitable for elderly dogs that have never done it before, as well as breeds with ‘squashed’ noses, such as Bulldogs and Pugs.

Some dogs are natural runners, who relish every chance they get to dash around, but their speed and endurance levels will vary according to their size and build. Greyhounds and Beagles, for example, tend to prefer shorter, faster runs, whereas Pointers and Jack Russells generally like long but steady runs. Tailor your training plan around your pet’s needs, rather than your own, and never force them to do something that might damage their health.

Once you’ve been given the all clear from the vet, it’s time to start building up your speed and distance. Those who are new to running often find a dog to be the perfect motivator when improving their fitness, especially during those tough first weeks.

As the running bug takes hold, why not take part in your local park run? Held every Saturday morning at locations around the UK, this 5km run is free, fun and, above all, dog friendly! You’ll see some dogs charge around the course faster than most humans, however there are others who prefer to trot slowly or walk at the back, so there’s no pressure.

Intrepid runners, with healthy and enthusiastic dogs, can take their running up a gear with Canicross. This is a type of cross-country running where your dog is harnessed to your waist with a hands-free lead, and fans of the sport love nothing more than pounding along woodland trails, splashing through water or scaling mountains. Across the country, you’ll find plenty of Canicross races taking place; there’s even a competitive league and in 2008, it became an event at Crufts 2018.

Finally, always be mindful about your dog’s health, ensuring they have enough to eat, drink and a place to rest afterwards. Wear high-visibility clothing when it’s dark, and never venture anywhere that looks dangerous. As long as you are sensible and stay safe, there is really no limit to the benefits that running can bring.

Do you and your dog enjoy running together? We’d love to see your pictures! Get in touch with us via our social media channels, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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