Hit the Road: Running With a Puppy
by Kate Spencer
Running with a puppy can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. Experts suggest waiting until your pup is full grown before going for full runs. Reux and I started jogging together last month, and are slowly easing into a routine with a couple of easy jogs a week. With summer approaching, I make sure to take it easy and not overwork him on a hot day.
Here are some tips on running with your own four-legged pup:
A tired puppy is a good puppy: Need a better use for that pair of tennis shoes other than serving as your pup’s chew toy? Lace up and head for the hills! Running with your dog will tire him out, which will lead to less destruction of your treasured belongings. Burning off extra energy helps create a calmer, better-behaved pup in the home.
Safety first: Remember to keep an eye out for hot pavement in the summer, and stick to grass or dirt when possible. Also remember that you are responsible for choosing a safe path for your dog: Scan the trail for nails, broken glass, and other debris or obstructions that could harm your pup’s paws. It’s your job to keep your dog safe on the trail.
Take it easy: A highly active dog like Reux can easily turn a casual jog into a sprint. It’s my job to set the pace and ensure that neither of us injures ourselves, or, worse, each other. I temper his puppy energy and keep his speed in check, running at a pace that is sustainable and controlled for both of us. Don’t try to run further than you know you both can – you don’t want to end up having to carry a pooped out puppy back home. With a less-active dog, starting with an easy jog can help ramp them up for higher intensity runs.
Use a no-pull harness instead of a collar:My trainer recommended getting a no-pull harness, and runs and walks have been a dream since I did. I don’t want to have to work on leash training every time I clip a leash to Reux’s collar; using a no-pull harness lets us both relax and have fun without having to worry about him ripping my arm out of my socket. It’s safer for me because I don’t feel like he is going to get out of control and pull me so hard I end up stumbling or tripping. It’s also easier on him because he’s not straining against his collar, leading to awkward stares from other walkers and joggers who think he is on the verge of a heart attack.
Train when possible: Every minute with Reux is a training opportunity, even if it doesn’t look like one. When going for a run around town, I still use my time with Reux as a chance to teach him safety on the road. Before crossing a street, I always ask him to sit at the curb and wait until I tell him it is OK to continue on. We always do this when going for a walk, but I think it’s even more important to remember to do this while out running as well. I don’t want him learning that it is OK to run recklessly across a street, and it’s my job to help teach him to stop on sidewalks.
Don’t forget the necessities: When running on my own, I don’t worry too much about bringing along anything other than my keys and cell phone. But, when Reux and I hit the road together, I need to remember to pack for him, too. I use a small backpack and include water, a collapsible water dish, an extra leash, poop bags, treats, a tennis ball, and a small doggy first aid kit. I would much rather be over prepared than under prepared.
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