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Whether you’re a budding jogger or a marathon runner, having a canine running partner can bring excellent perks to you and your pooch. Curious to give it a try? Here’s how to ease your dog into jogging with you.

Dogs make the perfect running companions: they’re enthusiastic, highly motivated and always eager to spend time with you. But preparation is key, so first, you’ll need to make sure they’re cut out for the challenge.

Adult dogs with lots of stamina, like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Jack Russel Terriers, Beagles or German Shepherds make great running partners. On the other hand, puppies, older dogs, pups with short legs or brachycephalic breeds (Pugs, English Bulldogs, etc.) can be much more vulnerable to injuries, breathing issues or overheating.

Remember safety comes first, so if you aren’t sure whether your dog is fit enough to run, check with your vet before embarking on this adventure.

Next is equipment: you’ll need a sturdy lead (you can attach it to your waist using a belt or a special hands-free lead), a harness, a collapsible water bowl, some poo bags and a few treats. That’s it, you’re set!

When it comes to the training, start out slow. Like anyone new to a fitness programme, your dog won’t be able to do long distances from the get-go. So start at a comfortable pace, running for about 10-15 minutes and keeping an eye on their responses, both during and after the run. Every few weeks or so, you can add an extra half a mile to your session depending on how you both progress. Above all, keep it enjoyable!

Some additional tips:

  • Don’t forget to warm up. A short walk before you start running can be a chance for your pup to stretch their muscles, but also to do their business.
  • Your dog may get distracted by things like flying balls or other pups passing by. If this happens too often, you can teach him the command ‘Leave’ to help him stay focused.
  • Combine intervals of walking and running to keep things varied and light, especially at first, when you’re gradually building up your strength.
  • It’s important not to force things. If your dog appears overheated or stops abruptly, find a shaded area to rest.
  • Always carry water with you. Dogs overheat a lot faster than us, so it’s vital that you take frequent water breaks. Over time, you’ll learn how often your pooch needs to drink.
  • Watch their paws to make sure there are no grazes or scratches. As a general rule, running on grass or a dirt trail will be easier on your furry friend’s joints and paw pads than running on pavement.
  • After your run and once you’ve had the chance to cool down, reward your pooch with lots of praise and perhaps, a treat or two. Sometimes a shared victory is the greatest triumph!