All Things Dog

Running with Your Dog

Walking a dog may be too slow for people who love to go running. That's why some people love to take their dogs running with them. If you would like to try this, here are some tips to make it easier on you and your dog.

Basic running guidelines

Make sure your dog is up to the run: Before taking your dog out for a run, be certain that he's physically fit enough for the task. You need to be careful with dogs that are not accustomed to high levels of activity or that are small in stature and low to the ground.

The heel command: For your sake, you will want to be sure your dog understands the basic "heel" command, which will keep him running steadily at your side, just behind your leg. This allows both of you to avoid any confusion as to who goes where and who is in charge of the route. You can train your dog to "heel" by either getting a book that shows you how, or by going to a good obedience class, which includes "heel" in its repertoire of commands.

Safety considerations: For your dog's sake, make sure you do not overdo the running, particularly at first. Before starting a new running routine, check with your vet to make sure there are no problems with your dog's circulatory system or joints. Also, keep a close eye on your dog's paws. You may have expensive running shoes to protect your feet, but your dog doesn't. Concrete, asphalt, and other hard surfaces can hurt your dog's paws. If possible, run on grass or dirt, which is also better for your legs.

Running free: If you want to let your dog run free for a certain period each day, take him to a protected area where he can run to his heart's content. Maybe there is a fenced-in field that provides a secure running area. Make sure there's no way your dog can run into traffic. Some beaches allow dogs to run free, although these are very rare. Local parks are options, too—but be sure to go when there aren't many other people around, particularly parents with children who might be alarmed by a dog running around. In addition, always be sure to clean up after your dog. If there's a spacious dog park in your area, this may be the best option for some "running free" time.

If you decide to let your dog run free, make sure you have trained him to come back when you call. Another great command for him to learn is an emergency "down." For this command to be effective, he should obey it from a distance. This allows you get him into a lying position immediately if you see a potential problem, such as another dog or a person entering the immediate area.

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