Many people love the idea of jogging with their dog. If you like to stretch your legs and stay fit you may think that taking your dog along with you for a good run is just as good for him as it is for you. But that’s not necessarily true in all cases. Here are some things to consider before you set out for a jog with your canine best friend.
1. What breed is your dog? If you have a medium or large sporting breed or one of the medium or large herding, working or hound breeds, then it’s likely that your dog will have no trouble keeping up with you as you jog. Some of these breeds may have a high energy level, such as the Border Collie, while other breeds may have been bred to run, such as the Greyhound and the Whippet. These dogs will probably love going jogging with you. However, if you have a toy dog or a smaller breed, one of the dwarf breeds or a brachycephalic breed (short-muzzled), then jogging is not a good idea. Jogging with a Pug, for instance, could endanger his health.
Even if you have a mixed breed dog and you’re not sure what breeds might be in your dog’s ancestry, try to assess your dog’s size and head shape. Will your dog have trouble breathing during a long run? Consider the length of your dog’s legs. Are they too short to be able to keep up with you easily?
There are many great dogs that can easily keep up with you while you jog. At the same time, toy and small dogs make wonderful companions but they were not intended to participate in activities that call for heavy exercise. Try to weigh these considerations before you take your dog jogging.
2. How old is your dog? No matter what size or breed of dog you have it’s never a good idea to let your dog take part in stressful, repetitive exercise while he’s still a puppy. Dogs are considered to be puppies until they are at least a year old since they still have bones that are growing and growth plates that haven’t yet closed. You can do permanent damage to your dog’s bones and joints if you allow him to do serious jogging with you before he’s a year old. Your puppy can get all of the exercise he needs from supervised running and playing for the first year. Hard roadwork or exercise for conditioning needs to wait until he’s more mature, and that includes jogging.
3. What is your dog’s physical condition? If you want to start jogging with your dog you should consider your dog’s physical condition. Is he normally a couch potato? Is he flabby and overweight? Dogs, like people, need to ease in to exercise. If your dog is out of shape then he won’t be able to go out with you and jog two miles right away. Start your dog’s exercise regime by taking longer walks and slowly work up to jogging. You can slowly increase the distance that you and your dog jog together. For dogs who are good candidates for jogging, jogging does make excellent exercise for them. It builds their muscles and their cardiovascular system, and it helps them stay slim, just as it does with humans.
4. What is the weather like? Dogs can be affected by weather conditions just as humans can. Remember that your dog can’t sweat, unlike you. They can only cool their bodies by panting. Do not take your dog jogging when the temperatures are too high or when the humidity is very high. He is likely to become a victim of heatstroke.
On the other hand, dogs can handle the cold much better than humans can in most cases (unless the dog is a toy dog). Many dogs have a double coat with a thick, dense undercoat that keeps them warm in cold weather. If you’re able to go jogging in cold weather then your dog will probably enjoy it, too. However, you should be careful of your dog’s paws in cold weather. Salt and other chemicals used to de-ice roads can be toxic to dogs, and many dogs will lick their paws after running. Be sure you clean your dog’s paws after running on icy roads. Salt and chemicals can also chap and crack your dog’s paws so you may want to purchase a product to keep your dog’s paws soft and well-conditioned.
These are just a few of the things you should consider before deciding to take your dog out jogging. Your dog may make an excellent jogging companion but do be sure that he’s the right size dog to enjoy running and that he doesn’t have any physical attributes that could cause him problems. Consider his age and condition. And, make sure that the weather is suitable for your dog. If you think about these things before taking your dog out running then jogging should be safe for both of you.