Ready to ask Fido to join you in your morning runs? Whether you're trying to get Fido in shape or you simply want a running partner to keep you motivated, it's a great idea. Of course, you have to make sure you have the "right" dog for the adventure. You can't really expect a tiny dog with short legs to be able to keep up with you. But a Labrador or a spaniel? They'll join in without a second thought.
Go for an "exploratory" run on your own first. Look at the terrain and the surrounding area and make sure it's dog friendly. You don't want to take Fido running alongside heavy traffic, especially if he's not particularly "traffic-savvy." The same goes for areas where you can run into garbage (broken glass or other dangerous stuff) or bad terrain (sharp rocks or pebbles) that might cause injuries or cuts.
Start with short practice runs. You didn't go from being a couch potato to trying to running 5k in a day, right? You can't expect it from your doggie either, even if he seems like a ball of energy at home. A 10- to 15-minute jog should be enough to start and give you a good idea of where he is fitness-wise.
Put Fido on a leash for the first few jogs. He needs to learn how to jog alongside you and not be distracted by all the interesting trees, squirrels or fire hydrants he sees along the way. And he also can't go on to meet every single dog you run across. As your jogging partner, he needs to just go alongside you -- and that might require some practice. So leash it is, for as long as necessary.
Take breaks if necessary. Fido could stand to lose a few pounds? Then he's probably not in shape to run for long periods of time. Temperature hitting near the three-digit mark? Jog in the morning or evening, and take breaks in shady areas to get some rest -- and some water.
- Keep your eyes open at all times. Excessive panting can be a sign of overheating or dehydration, and limping or favoring one foot over the other might mean there's a cut or injury that needs attention. Always check paws as the end of a jog to make sure everything's OK.
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