Should you run with your dog?

You're a busy person. You need to get your workout in, walk your dog, take care of the kids, etc. How can you make your morning routine easier? Maybe you can run with your dog. Workout for you and your pup. Done.

But, if you've ever tried running with a dog, it's much easier said than done.

"Come on." "Let's go." "Slow down!"

You're constantly telling your dog to come along, because your dog has caught the scent of where another dog peed. Your dog's bestie is walking across the street, and a squirrel just ran up the tree behind you.

Then you have moments when your shoulder might fall out of the socket because let's face it - your dog can run faster than you, especially if there's a bunny crossing up ahead.

If that sounds like you, take a second to think about if running together is actually what you want. You want to get a good workout in and you want to tire out your dog.

But, are you getting the workout your body needs, if you're constantly stopping to tell your dog what to do? If you workout to decrease stress, are you actually increasing it? And is your dog really tired?

Let's take a step back to discuss the pros of running without your dog:

1) You'll get a better workout.

Without your dog by your side, you can go all in for your workout. Put in those ear buds, get your playlist going, and go hard. You can just run, without any other thought or distraction.

This is your ME time. Take advantage of it!

Put everything you have into that run. It doesn't matter if you're running to change your body or clear your mind. You'll achieve both at the end of it.

2) You'll be able to strengthen leash walking skills.

If leash walking isn't quite 100% successful yet, the chances of running together peacefully is pretty slim. By taking the run out of the equation, you can really focus on the good leash walking skills that your dog needs. Your dog should be able to walk by your side, wander away to explore then come back when called. Leave the trash on the sidewalk alone. Walk by other dogs and people without lunging, barking and jumping.

You can wear the treat pouch and reward all the good behavior, building your way up to being able to run together one day. Training is hard work - so you'll end up with a tired dog too!

3) You'll give your dog much needed sniffing time.

Dogs gain information about the world through scents and smells. Sniffing is essential for mental stimulation, and it's what tires out the brain.

Imagine when you work all day long on a project at your desk, and you're drained at the end of the day. Do you ever wonder how you can be so tired if you barely left your chair? It's mental exhaustion. You're at your best when you've got both physical and mental exercise, right? Same is true for your dog.

On a walk, dogs NEED to sniff. So by walking your dog and allowing your pup to follow his/her nose wherever it leads, you're doing wonders for the brain and will actually end up with a calmer dog.

However, if you don't have a yard for your dog to run in or another outlet for good physical activity, running can be a great idea. Or, you just love to run and want your dog to be your little running buddy. It's do-able! You just need to get all the components together.

1) Build a solid recall.

First, your dog needs to come when called. You can use a long line to let your dog run ahead of you, but only if your dog will come back when called. Otherwise, it's like a sled dog race and you'll have absolutely no control. If your dog reliably comes when called, you can set your pace while letting your pup explore at the accelerated speed he/she needs. Check out the video below to learn how to teach your dog to come!

2) Train your dog for the run.

Take it one step at a time. Run down the block, stop and treat. Then run 2 blocks, stop and treat. Reward your dog for running by your side. Slowly increase the distance you expect your dog to run with you. The important thing is to keep that leash loose. No tugging!

That's why the recall is so important. When you pull on your dog, your dog pulls back. It's just a game of tug-of-war. Instead, play tons of recall games until it becomes muscle memory. Make your dog want to come to you, instead of ignoring you.

Quick tip - use a special leash and/or harness when running with your dog. This will help your pup learn that when he/she wears this particular leash, it's running time and not sniffing time.

3) Be prepared.

Know your conditions. How hot/cold is it out there, and can your dog handle it? Does your dog need a cooling vest or jacket? Dogs regulate their body temperature by panting and can overheat easily. Be aware of your dog's limits.

If you're running in the neighborhood, chances are you're good to go with just the leash.

But if you're going for a trail run, pack a backpack. Carry water, and a pet first aid kit. Have easy access to treats, and pack a second leash. If you're running your dog on a long line, have a short leash in case you need better control in a busier environment.

Your car and access to people may not come as easily depending where you are. So be sure you're prepared for anything your dog may need.

So, should you run with your dog?

Depends if your dog is ready for it, and if you're up for the challenge.

If getting a great workout is more important to you, then it might be better to leave your dog at home.

But if you want to have a 4-legged running buddy in the long run, take the time to train your dog to do it. It's can be a great bonding experience, done right.

Have questions? Have an unwanted behavior you'd like help with?

Check out Doggie Resource Room to get 1-on-1 coaching and training to solve doggie problem behaviors. What would it be like to get your dog to finally listen to you? Let's get on the road to that lifestyle today.

Click here for the details, or call 301-337-1039.


Piper's Walk is a socially-conscious small business dedicated to the safety and well-being of all dogs.

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