I love to run! I love to run with friends, but I especially love to run with the best little running buddy you can have…my dog!
This girl can run, run, run! Distance is her jam. She may be eight years young, but she can still bust out some miles. Bailey is a Weimaraner. Weimaraner’s were bred for hunting, so she has the stamina to keep up on long runs. Weims are an interesting breed, I love them, but I’ll be the first to say that this breed is not for everyone. They need exercise, and lots of it.
I started running with Bailey when she was around two years old. We had some struggles to start with; either she was running too fast, or I was running too slow… it was interesting, amusing, and frustrating all at the same time. Now we are a perfect match, she knows what to do, when I want her to stop, go, and can bust out 3 miles, or even 12, with no problem.
With more and more races popping up around where dogs are welcomed to run, I wanted to give some helpful tips on how to run with your pup. That way you can run fun races dressed up like this…
Of course, before you begin any exercise with your dog, make sure to check with your vet first. Especially if you have a puppy or young dog. You don’t want to put too much stress on their bones/joints too early. Also, make sure your dog knows those basic commands (heel, sit, stay) and is able to walk on a leash. I cannot stress the importance of the heel command. I also taught Bailey whoa, which tells her to stop immediately and not move. I think this is important to have just in case she was to ever to get off-leash or get to close to the road. If you are not sure how to teach these commands, take a lesson. I also trained her to become a Canine Good Citizen (which she is) and I think that was tremendously helpful in the whole training process. Get good at the leash walking, that way you want look like you are being dragged down the street by your dog.
With that in mind… Here are my top tips for running with your dog!
- Know your dog
- Get the right gear
- Fuel up
- Look down
- Dogs need training programs too
- Have Fun!
Seems simple right? Know what type of dog you have and set realistic expectations for you and your dog. Not all dogs are great for running (especially those with short noses). Some are better and short distances and others can go longer. Runner’s World put out a great list of different types of dogs and their running style:
Also know how to read your dogs body language. Bailey would run until she fell over I think. She is a highly driven dog so she will do whatever it takes to keep going. Knowing that, I watch her very carefully on our runs, looking for any sign of her overheating.
If you are planning on running when it is dark outside, or early in the morning, make sure your dog is wearing reflective gear also. I found a set of flashing lights that I put on Bailey’s collar and leash, and I just turn them on when we start running. I also wear a leash around my waist so I don’t have to hold onto it; I feel like I have better control of her attached to my hip. Come to find out, the leash I use is no longer being made – but there are plenty of different options to choose from.
Just like your pre-race scoop of peanut butter or banana, dogs need fuel also. Before long runs, Bailey will usually have a spoonful of peanut butter and water. During my runs, when I drink, I try to get her to drink. I usually just pour the water out of my bottle into my hand and, let’s face it, sometimes she even likes to drink water from the bottle while I am pouring. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I drink after my dog, and I’m ok with that, so… let’s move on now.
Since we are usually running on the streets of Atlanta, I try to be on the lookout for broken glass or anything else that could cause damage to her feet. Also if you are running in the summer, of course wait until it is cooler at night and late afternoon to go for a run but also we aware of the pavement. Even if the sun is setting, the pavement could still be hot – maybe even too hot for your dogs feet. Try to stay in the shade; sometimes I’ll even touch the pavement, if it is too hot for me then I assume it will be too hot on Bailey’s feet also. The other benefit of looking down… You get to see cute happy faces looking back at you!
Just because you can run 10 miles doesn’t mean your dog can… yet. Don’t expect to go out the first day and bust out a 10, 5, or even 3 miler. Your dog needs time to build up to the distance. They can’t tell you when they are sore or when they need to RICE an injury so go slow building up the miles. Check your dogs paws after each run to make sure they have not gotten cut or hurt along the way, and make sure they rehydrate and rest. Bailey loves her comfy bed after a long run…
Running with your dog is not about hitting a certain pace or getting a PR, it is about having fun together. It’s about taking selfies after a long run
It’s about taking off on a run, just a girl and her dog, running side by side, step by step, facing the run together. I have a running buddy that never complains, is always ready to go, ready to push a little harder, go a little farther, and is running just because she can, she never tells my secrets, she listens to me talk and never interrupts, she doesn’t judge me when I have to stop and walk, and she is happy to just be by my side. She is my running buddy, my dog, my (man’s) best friend.