Printer Friendly

4-legged runners.

If you are a fitness runner, your dog might make the best running partner you've ever had. Evolution has failed to turn dogs into couch potatoes, computer game addicts, or other variations on sedentary themes--no self-respecting dog would shrug off a run. The mere sight of you tying on your running shoes is enough to send most dogs into a frenzy of hopeful bliss. And weight control, cardiovascular fitness, joint health, and muscular strength are benefits for both you and your dog to enjoy. Here are some guidelines for running with your dog.

* Make sure your dog is healthy and start your canine pal out slowly. You may be in tip-top shape but if your dog hasn't ventured out of the back yard for years he will need some conditioning. Start out by upping the pace of your regular walk, then increase the distance and pace gradually.

* If you run on paved surfaces remember that your paws are tucked away in a high-tech protective device--your running shoes--and his are not. The conditioning process will help to toughen up his feet but there are limits. Check your dog's pads often to make sure that they are smooth and healthy without signs of wear and tear. Stay off the streets and sidewalks when the weather is really hot. If you'd have a hard time walking barefoot, he probably would too.

* Overheating can be a problem for dogs. Furry breeds have less tolerance for the heat, but none have the cooling capacity of humans. Although you should never allow your dog to seriously overheat, look out for bright red gums and tongue, thick saliva, and vomiting: these are signs of heat stroke. Hose your dog down with cool water and if you think he might be suffering heat stroke, keep him in the shade and call your veterinarian.

* Make sure you keep your pet well-hydrated. Your dog (depending on size and breed) may actually have greater water needs than you do. For workouts longer than 30 minutes, pack along water and teach your dog how to drink from a water bottle. Dog backpacks, foldable bowls and other gear are available to help you manage your dog's needs.

* Respect your pet's signals. If he looks dog-tired, is panting heavily, and lagging behind, he probably needs a break or you may be going too far, too fast, too soon.

* Keep an eye out for signs of overtraining. Dogs can suffer overuse injuries, depression and extreme fatigue if not given enough rest and recovery, just like you.

* Dogs can suffer from arthritic joints just as we can. There are medications for treatment, and exercise is usually recommended as part of a treatment plan. If your dog looks stiff and sore, balks at running or going up and down stairs, or whimpers when getting up from a nap, he may have signs of osteoarthritis and you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

* If you run at night with your dog, add reflective material to his leash and collar. You'll both be better protected if approaching cars light you up.

* Check out hands-free leashes that allow you to run without having to change your arm action or posture to accommodate your dog.

* Be considerate of others. Keep your dog in control. Don't let him run up to or lunge at passing people. Even other dog lovers don't like the intrusion. Your dog can truly enhance your running experience but you must remember that you are the alpha male (even if you're female) to your dog. His enthusiasm for you and his enthusiasm for running would probably overwhelm his better judgment--if he had any. Your dog will keep running even if he hurts, has cut paws, or if he's getting dehydrated and overheated. You have to think for him and prevent problems with your conscientious judgment. For more information on running with your dog, visit
COPYRIGHT 2001 American Running & Fitness Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:running with one's dog
Publication:Running & FitNews
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 1, 2001
Previous Article:Setting goals for spring training.
Next Article:The clinic.

Related Articles
The impression you make.
Hit the trails!
Pets: sure, lesbians and gay men are having children. But we still treat our pets like our firstborn. Here are some gift suggestions for the loved...
Run set to benefit Pre's Trail.
Traumatic injuries to runners.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |