Whether it’s around the neighbourhood, in the park or at the lake, summer means being outside and that often includes a run with Rover. For many, jogging is a fun and healthy activity that also provides an excellent opportunity to take your dog along for a little exercise too. However, there are a few things to keep in mind that will ensure your run (or walk) is happy and safe for both of you.
Get a Health Check
Before setting out this season, it’s a good idea to ensure your dog is fit enough to be your jogging buddy. Due to the high-intensity cardio workout that jogging provides, it is a good idea to check with your veterinarian to ensure your pet will not be at risk. Some factors include:
- Your dog’s weight. Overweight dogs may struggle more with running than one who is slim. For a dog who’s overweight, it’s best to start off slow and ease them into a new exercise routine, just like humans do!
- Your dog’s body type. Dogs with shorter legs may not be able to keep up with you at full jogging pace. Dogs with heavier coats may be more prone to overheating in the summer heat. Also, flat-faced dogs such as pugs, Boston terriers, French bulldogs, English bulldogs and Shih Tzus may have difficulty getting enough air, which can make running dangerous for them. These dogs are better off with a nice walk than running.
- Your dog’s age. Running your dog when they’re too old or too young can have serious health consequences for them. Running with your puppy before they are finished growing can impact her joints and muscles. When it comes to with an older dog, you should make sure that common aging problems such as arthritis and heart disease are ruled out before your run.
- Build slowly. Just like for humans, any exercise program should be built up slowly. Your pet will need to build up their stamina and time to adapt to their new exercise program, especially if they have not been very active leading up to summer.
Ensure your route is dog-friendly
While running is a flexible activity that can be done almost anywhere, it’s best to keep the following in mind when jogging with your pooch.
- Gradually build up your run. Remember when you started jogging? You likely would run for a bit, then walk for a while to let your body adjust. This is important for your pet too. Start off with a short period of jogging for a minute or two, and then walk for a few minutes. Slowly, you can build up to longer jogging segments.
- Avoid jogging on hard surfaces. Pavement and roads can be tough on your joints and your dog’s too! Asphalt can also heat up in the summer sun to the point where it can burn your pet’s paw pads. If possible, stick to grass, dirt, or a softer terrain but be aware of uneven surfaces or any other hazards such as rocks and holes.
- Is there shade? If possible, route your run through an area with trees or other sources of shade. Lakes make a great place for a cool dip too, during or at the end of your run.
- Timing is everything. It is best to run in the cool of the early morning or evening rather than in the heat of mid-day. Limit your jogging to these times whenever possible.
The planning is done, and now it’s time to run! Well, almost. You’ll need to take care of a couple of other things first.
- Bring water for your dog. If you’re going for a longer run and bringing water with you, don’t forget to bring some for your furry friend too. Dogs can’t tell us when they’re dehydrated, so it’s best to take regular breaks for a bit of water.
- Leash skills. If your dog does not do well walking on a leash, jogging on a leash could be a disaster. Be sure to leash train your dog while walking before attempting to job. If your dog tends to pull on the leash, it could be very dangerous for both you and your pet.
Remember, your pet cannot speak to tell you she is tired, hot or has had enough. It will be up to you to keep a keen sense of awareness regarding signs or symptoms that indicate they need to slow down or stop or if they are in distress. If your dog slows down and lags behind you, chances are they’re pooped. If you see this, slow down to their pace and take a break with shade and water. Better yet, it may be time to head home and call it a day.
- Watch for drooling, vomiting, or if your dog is warm to the touch. These are all indicators of dehydration and possibly heat stroke. If you’re hot, your dog, wearing a fur coat, is too. Provide them immediately with warm (not cold) water and let them rest in the shade. If your dog’s symptoms don’t go away, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Lastly, be sure your dog is microchipped and has its license tag on in case he or she becomes separated from you for any reason!
Now you’re set for a wonderful summer of sunshine, exercise and companionship with your dog!