Not all ages or breeds should run
Because running can damage growth plates, don’t run with puppies, especially giant breeds such as Great Danes and bullmastiffs, advises Dr. Rachael Scariano, a veterinarian at Banfield Acworth. Avoid jogging on hard surfaces for more than a few minutes until your pup is at least 18 months old and has been cleared by a veterinarian. Brachycephalic (short-muzzled) dogs such as pugs, French bulldogs, and Boston terriers are better suited for walking.
“Just like humans, dogs need to start by alternating short intervals of walking and running to build their endurance,” says Jordan Ryan, owner of Ruff Runners, a local dog-running service.
Practice good leash etiquette
In busy settings, keep your leash short to help you retain control in case of distractions, says Alli Bennett, owner of Collective Canine Training Co. Also, ensure the collar is comfortable but tight enough to keep your dog from slipping out. Carry treats to reward your pup for staying on task.
Consider the conditions
Scariano recommends walking instead of running if it’s hot outside or if the pavement is still slick from rain, which could cause your dog to slip or fall. Bennett suggests using dog boots to protect tender feet on blazing pavement and sticking to grassy routes near water sources for a quick swim on hotter days. “Keep in mind that dogs release heat via panting and through their paw pads, and they overheat much quicker than humans,” explains Scariano. She recommends bringing water and a collapsible bowl.
Watch for danger signs
Is your dog disoriented, unable to stand, panting excessively, or warm to the touch? Scariano says to stop and immediately seek medical attention, as your dog could be suffering from heat stroke.
Pro tip: Bennett suggests floating a little kibble in water at least an hour ahead of a run to encourage your dog to hydrate. Save the meal until afterwards.
This article appears in our August 2021 issue.