Ensuring your dog gets enough exercise is essential to prevent undesired behaviors triggered by pent-up energy. Additionally, regular exercise can tone his muscles, improve his mental alertness, prevent obesity and strengthen his bones and cardiovascular system. Jogging with your dog makes for good bonding time and is an effective form of exercise as long as it's done in a safe and correct manner.
Before starting a jogging routine with your dog, have a veterinarian examine him to determine whether he'll be able to withstand the exercise. He can assess your dog's physical fitness, and check his weight, lungs, ligaments and joints. If you have a short-muzzled dog, such as a bulldog or pug, jogging might not be the right type of exercise, because he might have trouble breathing. Older dogs might have trouble keeping up, and for puppies and large dogs, jogging might be too hard on their joints.
A reflective collar can make your furry pal visible to others, especially if it's dark or foggy outside. Bring dog treats and water along on your run, and use a leash that's 4- to 6-feet long. When your furry pal is at your side, the leash should hang in a U-shape. Choose jogging routes that are free of gravel and sharp objects, and avoid jogging in hot weather because a body temperature above 105 degrees Fahrenheit puts your dog at risks for heatstroke. In case your dog runs off, ensure he's vaccinated for rabies and is wearing an identification tag.
During the first couple of weeks, slowly increase the intensity and duration of your jog. Start by walking fast and check that your dog keeps up with you while he's next to you on a leash. Then, slow down and change directions and speed up your pace again. Once your dog consistently stays at your side, start jogging about the length of a half-block and frequently change your direction. If this goes well, and your dog seems comfortable running next to you and changing directions, slowly increase the duration of your jog.
Practicing obedience training that includes commands, such as "heel," "sit" and "stay" can make it easier to control your dog during your jog. Closely observe your dog while jogging. Regularly give him small amounts of water to keep him hydrated. If his tongue hangs out of his mouth and he's panting heavily or has trouble keeping up, slow down and rest. After your jog, check your dog's eyes, ears, coat and paws for any foreign items he might have picked up.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.