Exercise is just as important for your dog’s health as for your own and running can be a great way to work off some of your dog’s excess energy. Though many dogs love to run, they don’t always know how to run properly on a leash – it may take a bit of preparation and training. Keep reading to learn more about how to prepare your dog for this activity and how to train him to run by your side.
Before You Get Started
Before you start training your dog to run with you, you need to make sure that it is safe for him to do so. It is not recommended that puppies under the age of 12 months do any rigorous exercise that might put too much strain on their developing bones and joints. Take your dog to the vet to make sure that he is old enough and healthy enough for an exercise like running. If your dog is ready for running, you’ll need to do a bit of leash training first to make sure that he knows how to walk by your side before he can start running by your side. You should also look into a hands-free leash system so you don’t have to hold the leash as you run.
Training Your Dog to Run
Once your dog is physically ready to run and you have the right equipment, you can start training him. Training a dog to run with you is not difficult but you do need to start off slowly for your dog’s sake and build up his fitness. Tether your dog to the hands-free leash and start off with 5 to 10 minutes of walking at a moderate pace to warm up. When you and your dog are ready, you can start to jog at a moderate pace for 10 to 15 minutes. As long as your dog is able to handle this length of time, repeat it about three times a week with at least one day of rest in between. After a week or two, slowly increase the length of your runs by about 5 minutes at a time. Here are some additional tips for running with your dog:
- Always run at a pace that is easy for your dog to match – if he is dragging behind, you are going too fast.
- Look into a hands-free leash that has a bungee on it so it will stretch as your dog moves further away from you – many dogs prefer to run on the side of the road rather than the concrete.
- Provide your dog with gentle correction by tugging on the leash as needed, especially if he starts to pull too far ahead or tries to stop and sniff things every thirty seconds.
- Reinforce your dog’s good behavior with small treats and praise until he fully develops the ability to run next to you for extended periods of time.
As you and your dog start running together, pay close attention to the cues he is giving you. If your dog starts to pant excessively or appears to be very tired, stop and give him a break. You should also play to stop fairly often for water breaks, especially if it is hot out. As long as you limit the run to what your dog can safely handle, it should be an enjoyable activity for both of you.