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I got a head start on my New Year’s resolution and started training for a half-marathon back in October. After a few days of running, I noticed my dog, Lana, watching me longingly as I laced up my shoes. So instead of finishing a run and heading right back out on a dog walk, I decided to bring her with me!
Here’s what I’ve learned after running for three months with a furry friend in tow.
Just like me, Lana wasn’t used to running for long periods of time, and I didn’t want her to get hurt by going too fast too soon. We started out by jogging for short distances, which allowed her to get used to running instead of our usual routine. Now, Lana runs between three and five miles with me before work.
Your dog might not know exactly what’s going on at first, especially if they’ve only gone on walks before. In the beginning, it wasn’t easy to run with Lana. She zigzagged in front of me (quite the tripping hazard), and kept stopping to check out interesting smells. But after a few weeks, she started to understand that runs were different than our walks, and then she was all business.
I quickly found out that it was annoying to run with the leash in my hand. I felt off-balance and the swinging motion of my arms made it hard for Lana to move at a consistent pace. So I invested in a waist leash! It’s much easier to run with Lana attached to my core, plus the leash itself is made of bungee cord so there isn’t constant tension between us. The waist leash has been a game changer, and has made running more fun.
Running together made me aware of how important it is for runners and other pedestrians to be visible. We live in Seattle and our winters are dark, cold, and wet. That means we need to be very well lit on our early-morning jaunts. There’s plenty of reflective gear available for humans, and for dogs too!
Our vet gave Lana the clear to start running, but there are a few other things to keep in mind when bringing your dog on runs. To ensure that your dog doesn’t suffer from bloat, don’t feed her an hour before or after your run. Check your dog’s paws regularly for abrasions, especially if you’re trail running. If it’s too hot, don’t bring your furry friend—instead opt to run during the cooler parts of the day.
Don’t forget to take rest days. Lana doesn’t come on my super-long runs, and she enjoys long walks on our “days off”. The more care you take ensuring your dog has a comfortable run, the longer they’ll be able to accompany you.
Lana won’t be running the half marathon with me, but she’s become an amazing exercise partner. Since we started running regularly, she’s been more relaxed, and our bond has grown. Plus, she loves it so much that I never have an excuse to skip a day. There’s nothing like reaching a goal with your best friend, so if you think your dog might like running, give it a try!
Featured image via triathlete.com