If you’re wondering how to turn your daily dog walks into a run, or thinking about taking your pooch out on the trails with you, it can be daunting knowing where to start.
Christian Allen, product expert at Runners Need, said: “Just like humans it is really important to ease your dog into running to make sure they stay happy and healthy. Some dogs also aren’t suited for running and you need to take into consideration their age, breed, health and personality. So, if you’re thinking about taking them out for a run with you, it’s always best to speak to your vet first.”
Once your vet has given your dog the green light, there are some other important factors to consider. Christian shares his top tips below and you never know, they might just be the next Pawla Radcliffe!
What age can your dog start running?
If you have a puppy, it is important to wait until they are fully grown before you take them out running with you. If young dogs are put under too much stress, they may experience problems in later life, so always wait until they have matured and properly developed.
How to increase their fitness
As with humans, it is important to take it slow at first so your dog can build up its fitness. If your dog is unfit, run at their pace and give them plenty of breaks. You could also try alternating between running and walking to get your dog used to picking up its speed alongside you.
Think about the heat
While we can find it hard running in hot weather, think about your dog with all that extra fur. Don’t train for long distances in the heat with your dog as it could lead to them suffering with heat exhaustion or becoming seriously ill. Pay particular attention if your dog has a long coat or is overweight too. Check on them regularly during your run to make sure they are doing okay and, if you think they are getting too hot, stop, take them into the shade and pour some water over them to help them cool down.
Where are you running?
It is also important to consider where you are running with your dog. Unlike you, they aren’t able to protect their feet with running shoes. Be mindful about running on hard surfaces like asphalt, which can make dogs more susceptible to impact injuries. Instead, think about taking them out on the trails, which is much kinder to them underfoot. Grass, dirt, sand and gravel are much better options.
What kit do you need?
While dogs may enjoy running off their leads when it is safe to do so, for times when it is not, or for dogs who need to be kept close by, it is worth investing in a dog harness. Many people also like to use these with a bungee leash so their dog still feels like it is able to explore. Dog harnesses can help make running more comfortable for our furry friends, rather than having something pulling on their neck.
Portable and collapsible dog bowls are also a great shout, as they are easy to fill up with water and pack away when your dog has had a drink. They often come with a clip too, to easily attach to your running bag, belt or vest,
Find dog friendly events
There are plenty of events for you and your pooch to participate in. While Parkrun has recently changed its rules to only allow dogs to run on short, handheld and non-extendable lead with their owner, there are many others which are more spread out and allow your dog to run more freely with you.
Maverick puts on regular trail events across the UK, with several races suitable for participants to bring their dogs to. They even award dogs with special medals once they cross the finish line.
For more information or to find out where your nearest Runners Need store is visit www.runnersneed.com