Fido needs a training schedule, too.
Dogs make great running partners. They’re always on time (even on early mornings), aren’t overly obsessed with their GPS and never complain that they drank too much last night and need to go slow. However, this unfettered eagerness could mask dangers to the health of your four-legged companion. Before you lace- and leash up, the do’s and don’ts of inter-species outings:
Do let your dog be the pacer
Unfortunately, you can’t tell your dog you’re hoping to PR your next race and would he mind doing some intervals. “Not every dog is a marathoner and once you make the decision to bring the dog, you have to make sure his or her best interest is at hand,” says Meghan Tooley, a volunteer at the SPCA of Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, New York, and head of its running club. “You have to consider that there’s another being with you and they might not believe in what you’re doing.” Forcing an uninterested dog to run 15k is cruel. “If that means running only two miles that day, you have to suck it up.”
Do judge a dog by the color of his fur
Because dark colors absorb the sun's rays and light colors reflect it, dark-furred dogs are more prone to overheating, says Justine Lee, D.V.M., an Oakdale, Minnesota-based veterinarian and running aficionado. Dogs that snore at night (think flat-faced breeds like Boxers, Bulldogs and Shih Tzus) find running in high temperatures extremely taxing because their anatomy makes it difficult to take deep breaths. However, it can get so hot that any dog (especially overweight ones) should stay indoors, since they’re prone to heat stroke and apt to singe their little paws on hot asphalt. To test, place your hand on the pavement for 10 seconds. If it hurts, leave your pup at home.
Don’t be hard on a chubby dog
Dogs who are overweight are liable to incur familiar running injuries, such as a torn ACL. If a dog starts running as a youngster and is in good physical condition, she’ll probably be ok. But if you do want to take your husky Husky out, don’t kick things off with a 3 miler. Start slow and gradually add distance over several weeks.
Don’t assume racing dogs like to race
It may be counterintuitive, but large breeds like Great Danes and Mastiffs are loathe to even walk a mile, let alone go on a run. Conversely, a little Jack Russell Terrier, a born and bred working dog, can sometimes run five miles or more. Dogs' short legs mean they do work harder than their human, so pace accordingly. Sinewy dogs, such as American Pit Bulls, Greyhounds and Boxers are better at short distances; muscle mass prevents them from exchanging heat in the same way more lean breeds would, Lee says.
Don’t just assume your dog’s doing fine
There aren’t always warning signs when it comes to running in the danger zone. “We bred dogs to please us, so of course dogs are going to try to run by your side and please you,” Lee says. “Some dogs will just stop, but you can’t really trust a dog to tell you.” Warning signs to look for: if a dog is panting constantly, if his tongue is long and hanging far outside his mouth, if he's lagging behind, if his gums are dark red or he feel warm to the touch.
Do manage your dog’s training schedule
If you’re planning a long run and your dog is a beginner, it may not be easy for them to keep up. Just like a human, it takes time and training for dogs to adjust to longer distances. Keep runs short at first to build up their tolerance. Geraldine Kilkelly, D.V.M., an Astoria, New York-based veterinarian, recommends interval training with intermittent water breaks. “If your pet is tired do not push him or her. If he or she seems sore the next day, cut back on the training schedule.”
Harlan the Corgi takes his human, Justin Mozer, through his paces. Like any athletic underdog, what this pup lacks in stature, he makes up for in heart. Follow his adventures on Instagram.