Running with your dog is an experience like no other. It provides health benefits to both of you and gives you and your dog much-needed exercise and the type of mental stimulation that’s necessary for younger dogs who tend to easily become bored during the first few years of life. If you have a dog that’s dealing with weight issues, then taking your dog for a run can provide the daily exercise he or she needs to get back in shape.
Creating a Routine
Like many people, dogs tend to thrive with a routine. This is especially true for newly adopted dogs. By creating a running routine with your pet, you’ll give them something to look forward to and a way to spend precious quality time with you. Try to run at the same time every day, for the same amount of time. When a dog has this type of routine, you’ll notice a significant change in their mood and overall well-being.
Running will keep both you and your dog in shape. Even if your dog isn’t overweight if you don’t usually take your dog for a walk and they’re high energy, then running is exactly what they need to burn off that energy. You’re also providing them with mental stimulation while spending time with them, which is very important for dogs of all ages. If you have an older dog, running daily can help with weight management, and it can also help to lower blood pressure, boost cardiovascular health, and can even strengthen their immune system.
Have you had trouble in the past teaching dogs commands? Most owners don’t realize that running with a dog isn’t as simple as using the best dog leashes for running and hoping for the best. A dog needs to be trained to learn how to run with you. Many dogs will start off running too fast and can end up dragging you. Using a leash specifically designed for running can help to improve your control over them, allowing them to keep the right pace, but it will be your job to encourage your dog to not run ahead, to ignore any other dogs or animals in the area, and to follow your lead when you cross the street, turn a corner or head in a different direction. You can use dog treats as positive reinforcement during the first few weeks. This can help to keep them motivated and attentive to your commands.
In the beginning, it will be difficult to teach your dog to run at a certain pace, since running outdoors with their owner is a very exciting experience for them. But over a matter of weeks, you’ll find that they’re very responsive to your commands. This will be beneficial in the home as well. If you continue to use treats for positive reinforcement whether it’s with simple commands such as “sit” or “stay, or you use them when you’re teaching them how to run and walk properly when they’re on a leash, teaching them to follow your lead when you run will make for a more obedient dog and one that’s eager to learn.
Reconnecting and Bonding
A dog lives to please their owner, but if you’re guilty of not spending much time with them, whether you’re too busy with the kids or work, then you may have noticed that your dog has started to drift from you. They may even seem withdrawn. This is common in busy households. Running will be a great way for you to reconnect with your pet and show them how much you love them. It will boost their confidence and gives them something to look forward to.
If you bring a new dog home, then the bonding experience will be very important and allows them to enjoy an exciting experience with their new owner. Taking your dog for a run also allows them to experience a new part of the world while spending time with you. Basically, this type of interaction can help you to reconnect with your dog or bond with a new pet, quickly.
Burning Off Energy
As I mentioned earlier, running is great exercise, especially for hyperactive dogs. But if you have a working breed of dog or a dog that has a ton of energy, then this type of exercise is essential to their mental health. If you don’t exercise a high energy dog regularly, they can become destructive, spending their down time digging holes in the yard, chewing, and basically driving you crazy. This is because your dog is bored and is not getting the mental stimulation he or she needs. Running will not only burn off excess energy and tire your dog out, but it will also provide the mental stimulation needed in order to prevent destructive behavior. This will make for one tired and happy pet.
Mental Health Benefits
Is your dog prone to anxiety? Taking your dog for a run can have a huge impact on anxiety and stress levels. Studies have shown that a dog with a more active lifestyle will also live a happier, longer life. When a dog is under-stimulated they can become depressed and aggressive. Running will expose them to a new environment filled with different smells, sounds, and sights.
How to Get Started
Remember, you will need to teach your dog how to run with you. If you normally run alone, then this will be a whole new experience for you as well. Start off slow, especially if you have an older dog. When you go for your first run, it’s important that you pay close attention to how your dog is behaving during the run and look for signs that you’re overdoing it. Does your dog seem tired? Are they beginning to slow down? Do they seem excessively thirsty? A determined and loyal dog will not quit on you and will continue to run, even if they’re exhausted. You’ll want to avoid pushing your dog too hard during the first month, even if they’re younger and very active. Begin by running for five to ten minutes. If your dog is able to keep up with you and they seem to be enjoying themselves, then continue to run for another five to ten minutes. Try to avoid running for more than fifteen to twenty minutes for the first few times. You can increase the length of your run every few days, based on your dog’s progress. Not overdoing it will be important. Just like people, a dog can become injured if they’re pushed too hard. Go slow, monitor their progress, and try running two to three times a week and gradually increase both the frequency and the length of your runs.
Is It Safe?
Taking your dog for a run two to four times a week will decrease their chances of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. It will boost their cardiovascular health, mental health, lower their blood sugar, and improve their stamina. This can be especially important if you have working dogs or high-energy dogs. Regardless of your dog’s age, getting them outdoors even for a short run a few times a week can do wonders for their overall health and general well-being.
If you’re not sure running with be a safe activity for your dog, due to their age or an underlying health problem, then make sure you speak with their vet, prior to starting. Your vet can also recommend how often you take your dog for a jog or run, and for how long. If the vet gives you the green light, then I recommend purchasing a running specific leash, which will give them enough room to run at a decent pace, without pulling you. If your vet does not recommend running due to your dog’s age or a health-related condition, there are other, low-impact ways to exercise your pet. To learn more, click here to read my article on how to exercise your dog inside.
Running with your dog can be an amazing experience and one that brings you closer together and allows your dog to burn off all that energy. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. Running will provide your dog with both. Over the coming weeks, you’ll notice that your dog is happier, healthier, slimmer, and less anxious and stressed. There are many benefits that come with taking your dog for a run two to three times a week. You’ll find that over time, you look forward to it just as much as your pet, as both of you head out to explore the neighborhood, burn off calories, and enjoy some quality time together, exploring a whole new world.