5 Dog Running Tips for Any Season

Depending on your running style, your dog’s running needs and the time of year, running with your dog can either be an amazing experience or a nightmare.  Use these tips to create a new habit that will benefit both you and your pooch!

1. If you are a moderately slow runner not running more than 3-5miles or so, a good running match might be a jack russell terrier, standard poodle, lab, or a golden retriever.  If you are faster and run longer, then opt for a dog known for running such distances like a German Shorthaired Pointer, Weimeraner, Brittany Spaniel, or other hunting dogs. Notice that all of these dogs have long noses.  Dogs with pushed in noses aren’t suited for running much more than very short distances. My dog, Lance, is a German Shorthaired Pointer. He has comfortably joined me for runs up to 30K with gas in the tank. He’s also joined us for mountain biking 55K!  

2. Get a proper dog running leash. I bought mine from Ruffwear. Notice the bungee in the middle of the leash. The other end wraps around my waist and clips with a fastex buckle. Running hands-free ensures that you don’t end up with imbalances in your arms/shouders from holding onto a leash. It also comes in handy when you need two hands to pick up the doggie poop! The bungee in the middle makes for a more comfortable run for both of you since there is fewer jarring instances. Hey, squirrels and rabbits make for exciting moments!  The leash comes in two lengths. I chose the shorter one so I have more control. I don’t want my dog running around the corner before I get there. It is plenty long enough.  

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3. Winter running can be tricky for both dogs and people! If you can get your dog to run with booties, I applaud you! Lance will have nothing to do with them. I recommend lathering your dog’s paws with petroleum jelly to allow for the snow to slide off rather than build up between the toes.  You’ll know when the snow is building up because they will stop and lick their paws. The salt and ethanol pellets are a huge bother for your dog. They actually hurt them. The jelly will help with that.  During the run, try to run in areas that aren’t so heavilly salted etc. Generally, subdivisions are better than major streets. Pay attention to the temperature.  If it is extremely cold outside, avoid taking your dog.  Frost-bite is not to be taken lightly! If your nose wants to stick together, and you konw what I mean, then it’s too cold for your dog. In Canada, I would say that is about -20deg C. Sometimes, when I want to go for a long run in the winter, I will run a 5-6mile loop with Lance and then bring him home and finish the rest on my own. It really depends on the conditions out there. Today was quite icy so we only ran a couple of miles. Sometimes the roads have been nice and clear and we’ve been able to do 16-18miles together in the winter.

4.  In the above picture, you will also notice his backpack. It is also from Ruffwear.  It’s called the Singletrak. It’s great for long runs!  It comes with two Platypus water bottles. There are four pockets so you can store your gels, bloks, keys, etc. It is nicely streamlined for running in the bush, which we do regularly! Remember to pack food for your dog too!  We share Clif Bloks and energy drinks.  

5.  If your dog is just starting out with distance running, be sure to gradually build up the mileage just like you would for yourself. At about 6months of age, you can start out with running one block and walking a block for 20min. Just like a person, they need to gradually build up their running legs. Add about 10% each week, just like a person would. Some dogs are meant for distance and some aren’t. If a dog breed is known for hip dysplasia, be wary of running too far. Perhaps keep it to 2-3 miles. 

Did you know that there are races specifically for dogs and their owners? It’s called CaniCross! There are all sorts of dog sports! Here is a link to a great site listing all sorts of fun stuff!

Have fun! Let me know if you have questions!

© Jennifer Wasylenko 2013