If you haven’t already guessed getting in shape is much easier when you have an exercise buddy & some accountability. So, look no further then at your feet. Dogs make excellent running & jogging companions. They are always eager for a good run to help you shed those unwanted Holiday pounds or maintain your beautiful physique. But before you get off the couch, put down the remote and get on your running gear here are a few tips to make running with your dog easy for the both of you. Remember safety first!
1. Get a Checkup. If you are considering setting a daily exercise regime make sure you and your dog both get a clean bill of health from the doctor. Check with your veterinarian before starting your dog on an exercise program to make sure running is right for them.
2. Warm up your dog by walking first. Put your pet through a nice brisk walk or short jog to loosen up muscles and get the heart pumping. Like humans, dogs can experience signs of stiff-ness after the initial run. Once run is over let your dog cool down with a walk at the end.
3. Pace Yourself. Build up slowly, and watch for signs of fatigue. Remember dogs get tired as well. Like us they need to be slowly conditioned to handle whatever terrain & distance you set in front of them. So build up endurance over time. If your dog lies down during a workout, end the session or give them a time out.
If your dog appears to be overheating stop the jog immediately. Cool him down slowly with cool water (not cold). Signs of overheating include the following
- Excessive panting
- Increased salivation
- Red gums
- Increased heart rate
4. Carry Water. Keep water on hand before, during and after a workout.
5. Beware of your dogs running surface. If your dog is not accustomed to running on pavement, build up gradually. Remember dogs don’t have the leisure of throwing on a pair of jell shocked absorbing running sneakers. The only thing between your dogs paws & the pavement are his pads. For this reason it is important that you first build up your dogs endurance & pads toughness by with walking distance.
6. Watch the weather forecast. Dogs cannot regulate heat as efficiently as humans when temperature rises and cool down by panting and sweating through their pads. When the mercury rises dogs are at greater risk for heat stroke & dehydration. Opt to jog, walk or run with your dog early in the morning or late evening and avoid the hottest time of the day.
7. Leash up! Keep your dog (even the most obedient ones) on a leash and by your side when running for his protection & others. It is important that you rein in your dog and have complete control. Don’t let your dog run ahead on leash only to leave you dragging behind. Keep in mind that the whole purpose of exercising is not only to get in shape but to bond with your loyal companion.
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