Editor’s note: This posts was originally shared in 2016 and has been updated.
“Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there’s no reason to fear starting lines…or other new beginnings.”-Amby Burfoot
Do you know deep down that it’s time to challenge yourself and up your fitness game? There’s great news: you don’t have to do it alone! Dogs can be great running companions – they can get you up early every morning and will support you and inspire you to do your best. We know it probably sounds appealing to you, but you may be wondering ‘Where do I start?’ Our partner, Dawn Celapino, the owner of Leash Your Fitness, which specializes in fitness classes you can do with your dog, has put together her top tips for running with your dog including a training plan for running a 5K with your pup.
1.Consider your dog’s breed. Not all breeds are suited to running. Snub-nosed dogs like a Pug, Bulldog, Shih Tzu or Lhasa Apaso, often have trouble breathing during exertion, especially in the heat. Check with your vet about your specific dog.
2.Be realistic about your dog’s fitness. What kind of shape are you and your dog in? Does your dog consider a walk around the block exercise for the day? Remember that your dog needs to work up to distance, just like a person does. Just because you can easily run a 5K, doesn't mean your dog can too. You need to put them through a training plan just like you would yourself. Check out our 5K training plan.
3.Basic obedience. Working on basic obedience will making running much more enjoyable and safer. The first thing you want to do before running with your dog is practice walking with him/her in a heel. You don’t want Fido biting at the leash, pulling excessively, or weaving all over the place and tripping you. If your pup has not mastered this, it’s going to be very difficult to run well together. Another good thing to practice is sitting and staying. When we run with our Trail Dogs team, we stop at each curb and have our dogs sit. It is a great habit to get in so that Fido does not dash out into the street.
Getting Started – The Training Plan
1.Incorporate sprints into your walk. Start by incorporating short sprints into your regular walks. We have people find landmarks on their daily walk and do a little jog or sprint to it. It could be a lamp post, street sign, tree or anything that gives you a short destination. You can build these short spurts up each day
2.Consider run/walking too. Just speed up the pace of your current walk and do not allow Fido to stop at every fire hydrant to pee and sniff.
3.Follow our 5K training plan. Try following our handy 5K training plan to get you and your dog in shape for running your first 5k. This chart is just a guide. Watch your dog closely to see if he is enjoying running.
Safety While Running
1.Run with a harness. We recommend running with a dog harness instead of a collar. If your pup does pull, then a harness will be much easier on his neck and you will have much more control. If your dog is a puller, consider a gentle leader or harness with a front leash attachment which will help with the pulling.
2.Consider the temperature before setting out. Remember that dogs do not sweat, they pant. Running with them in the heat is not a safe idea. They also do not wear shoes so if the pavement is hot, it will burn their paw pads. Dogs have died from heat stroke just taking a walk in the neighborhood in the middle of the day, so please do not take these conditions lightly.
3.Bring Water. Make sure you bring plenty of water for you and your dog. Kurgo makes a super cool water bottle that you and your dog can both use! Remember to stop for frequent water breaks, especially if it is hot.
4.Monitor your dog at all times. It is very important to give your dog a break if he/she is slowing down or panting excessively. Just because you are not overheating does not mean that your dog isn’t. You don’t have fur insulating your body. A sign of heat stroke is heavy panting, confusion, acting sluggish and very red gums and tongue. If this occurs, you need to get your dog water and cool him/her off fast. You can place cool towels or spray water over them to help them cool, especially on their paws. Once you have started the cooling process, take him/her to a vet immediately.
Enjoy running with your dog and be sure to tell us how your first 5K went! Tag #kurgoruns on Instagram to share your pictures!
About Leash Your Fitness
Leash Your Fitness is a fitness company in San Diego that specializes in everything fitness with your dog. They offer bootcamp, dog yoga, hiking, camping, kayaking, SUPing and trail running including 5k’s with their Trail Dogs team! You can follow their adventures on their Leash Your Fitness Facebook and Instagram pages.