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How to Start Running with Your Dog

man running with dog on a mountain trail

Ready for your best friend to be your four-legged running buddy? It’s a great way to get out of the house, have fun and stay fit together. Here’s how to prepare and what to do on your first run together.

Get Ready

Before you start your dog running journey, think about your pooch’s breed, age and health. Larger breeds like huskies, retrievers and Dalmatians are born to run. But smaller breeds like schnauzers, terriers and shelties make surprisingly great workout partners, too. Short-nosed dogs though, like pugs and bulldogs, should stay home because they can overheat and may struggle for air.

Don’t run with puppies under a year old because their bones and joints are still forming. And if your dog is a little white in the muzzle, visit your vet first to check their overall health and rule out hip dysplasia.

Get Set

You and your dog both need the right running gear. We recommend a chest harness and a nonretractable leash that’s 3 to 6 feet long. If you want your hands to be free, try a cross-body leash or a running belt — preferably one with a spot for a water bottle, collapsible bowl and waste bags.

You can even buy boots for your dog! But if your pooch turns his nose up at those, just apply paw balm before and after a run to protect their paw pads from salt, irritating chemicals and hard surfaces. And if you go trail running with your dog, don’t forget to check their feet for injuries from sticks or rocks.

Go!

illustration of paw prints

1. Pick a Paw-friendly Route


Grass, woodsy soil and sand are best for your pup’s feet. But if you have to stick to sidewalks and streets, start with short runs until your dog develops calluses on their paws, and be sure the asphalt isn’t too hot in the summer.
Speaking of heat, we generally don’t recommend running with your dog if it’s over 70 F.

illustration of human stretching

2. Follow a 5K Training Plan for Beginners

After a good stretch and a few minutes of brisk walking, alternate walking with short bursts of running. It’s the perfect way for you and your dog to start slow, build stamina and progress at a safe pace.

illustration of walking dog on leash

3. Keep Your Dog Close

To prevent your pup from pulling or tripping you up, it’s important to train your dog to stay close by your side when you’re running together. Ideally, your dog’s nose should be near your knee, and your arm should be comfortably straight down holding their leash — especially when they’re getting used to running next to you. Also, if you’re on the road, run on the left side with your dog curbside, away from traffic.

illustration of human shouting

4. Work on Your Cues

Verbal cues are crucial for teaching your dog to be a good running partner. We recommend being consistent with your commands, like “Let’s go” for beginning your warmup, “Go faster” when it’s time to start running and “Whoa!” when it’s time to slow down or stop. Behavioral cues like “No” or “Leave it” will also teach your dog to ignore the tempting sights, smells or animals they encounter during your run.

illustration of dog running on leash

5. Pick up the Pace

Halfway through your run, push yourself and your pup. During one of your running intervals, turn up the jets and sprint! It’s a great cardio boost, and it’ll help both of you build up your speed and stamina.

illustration of dog panting

6. Know If Your Friend Needs a Break

If you see signs of exhaustion like rapid panting, excessive drooling, a red tongue or gums, a lowered tail, lagging behind or refusing to run, take a nice, long break. Get your dog to a shady spot if possible, and give them water. Oh, and a nice pat won’t hurt.

illustration of pedigree food back with full dog bown

7. Refuel Your Furry Jogger

Think about stopping every 15 minutes or so until you have a good idea of how much water your dog needs, especially if it’s hot.

And when it’s mealtime, give your fitness pal fuel for their next run — and all the runs after — with delicious, nutritious PEDIGREE® High Protein. (Just wait at least an hour after running before feeding your friend.)

We hope you and your dog have fun together on your first run!

  • When Should You Switch Your Senior Dog to Soft Food?

    smiling lab sitting in front of brick wall


    As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.

    When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.

    two dogs eating from two bowls

    Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food

    If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
     

    fluffy brown dog yawning showing teeth

    Teeth Sensitivity

    As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.

    However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.

    Digestion Aid

    Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.

    Hydration Help

    It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.

    girl kissing older dog on the head

    Slower Metabolism

    Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.

    Picky Eaters

    While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!

    Whether you choose dry food, soft food  or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.

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