As the last mince pies slowly dwindle away lots of us pull on our trainers and head out into the cold January drizzle to try and meet our resolution to get fit.
But wait – we can make this fun! The addition of a super enthusiastic dog can make all the difference- so here are my top 10 tips to make running with your dog a pleasure:
Sounds silly but if you don’t just jump off the sofa and do a marathon, then neither should your dog. Start with 10-20 minutes of gentle jogging interspersed with walking three times a week. Give your and your dog’s muscles and tendons time to toughen up
It’s dark at this time of year. A flashing collar or reflective coat is invaluable when running on the road
Consider a harness
It can be tough to stop dogs pulling when running on the roads. Whilst it’s unusual for a dog pulling on a collar to do themselves harm, a harness can be more comfortable. Just watch out for rubbing, especially under the front legs.
Likewise a running belt for you can improve your running gait- rather than overbalancing you through tension in your arms, a running belt transfers your dog’s forward momentum to your centre of gravity- helping you to run faster, more safely and with less likelihood of injury.
Make sure your dog is fit to run
Small dogs, dogs with squished noses, young (less than 1 year) dogs, old dogs and dogs with disease need to be looked after. Generally they’ll need shorter less intensive exercise- walking or swimming can be great for them though.
Take pooh bags
Always have a pooh strategy or risk the wrath of your neighbours, the council and Facebook!
Try competitive running with your dog
Cani-X is an organisation which runs competitive running races with dogs. Alternatively the weekly 5k Parkruns allow you to run with your dog (our local Parkrun is at Spiceball in Banbury at 9am every Saturday)
Break the monotony
Don’t just plod the same boring road route- take a ball to throw when on fields, try stile jumping or attempt to outsprint your dog 🙂
Repetitive pounding on tarmac can make paws sore- they definitely do better on soft ground. Not only that, trail running tends to cause fewer running injuries
Time for some basic commands
At least the recall! But you can try the sledge commands for left and right (haw and gee, respectively), “over” for stiles and “stay” when your laces come undone
Time to run!
Avoid running your dog for 2 hours after their least meal, and be aware treats can cause choking if given to a panting dog
So there you go- no excuse not to go out and have fun with your dog!