Like a lot of people, I love dogs, and if you can’t get a human friend to run with you, why not a furry friend? However, not all dogs are made for running (or running far). I had a smaller dog growing up who was a dear but couldn’t run very far; it was a pity because she had a lot of energy.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about running with your dog to make sure that you are making the best decision for Fido! We’ll discuss first the characteristics to look for to determine if your dog can run, and if so, how far.
Check Your Breed
Remember that some breeds can’t run at all. You’ll definitely want to check with your vet to see if your particular pooch will be able to run. The smaller the dog, the lower your chances are. For example, you’re not going to be able to run with a teacup Yorkie!
My dog growing up with a terrier breed, and, when she was younger, she could run some with me or run alongside my bike. But she couldn’t go very far, so it would not have made for a very good workout.
By contrast, I have close friends now who have a Siberian husky, who is an amazing dog to run with. They have let me take him for short clips because he doesn’t have much experience with long runs, and you can definitely get a great workout with him!
Look at the Muscle Structure
Even if you have a larger dog, you might not be able to run with him or her because heavy dogs with lots of muscle cannot run long distances. It’s important to figure out what your dog is capable of.
As an example, greyhounds, pitbulls, and boxers have such dense muscle mass that they overheat easily. They are likely great for sprinting, but long runs are going to be much harder and potentially dangerous for them.
Some examples of great dogs to run distance with include German shorthaired pointers, dalmatians, weimaraners, vizslas, Rhodesian ridgebacks, doberman pinschers, English springer spaniels, American foxhounds, salukis, and Belgian malinoises.
Check the Legs
Although I love my aunt and uncle’s daschunds to pieces, they would never be good running dogs. Why? Their legs are shorter than their bodies. You’re lucky if you can get them to walk fast!
Other dogs that have short legs are not going to be great running dogs because they just don’t have the stride capability. But this makes sense. A two-year isn’t going to be a great running partner—her legs are not long enough!
Look at the Face
Another important thing to remember when figuring out if your dog can run is ensuring that he or she will be able to breathe. If you have a pug or another type of dog with a smooshed face, he or she will not be able to run with you for breathing reasons.
You should also consider other factors: Does she pant a lot even when she’s sleeping? Does he snore like a freight train? Does she have small nostrils? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, your dog is probably out for running.
Remember the Age of Your Dog
Like I mentioned above, my terrier could run with me for very short distances when she was younger, but when she got older, she couldn’t do it anymore. She ended up living past 17 ½ years, and I could barely get her to walk a couple feet at the end of her life.
If your dog is older, he or she just isn’t going to be able to run as far, but this is also true for humans, so it makes sense. Likewise, don’t start too soon with your puppy. Make sure that his muscles have had time to develop.
Depending on the dog, the ideal running age will be between 3-7 years old. My friends’ Siberian Husky fits in that age range. It’s always good to double-check with your vet to be sure.
Check the Weather
Something you want to be especially careful about when running with your dog is running in hot weather. Remember that he or she is wearing a fur coat, so your dog will get hotter a lot faster. Just like you don’t like the summer heat, your dog doesn’t either!
If you’ve started on a run and the weather seems fine to you, but your dog is panting a ton, not keeping up with you, or just looking tired overall, you probably want to reconsider that long run you had planned. Maybe the weather isn’t good for Fido.
Figure Out the Experience of Your Dog
Finally, start slow. Just like you wouldn’t expect a friend to run 10 miles with you on her second run, you can’t expect a dog to do that. Slowly build up the training miles with your dog so that his muscles are prepared and ready for the road that lies ahead.
As you slowly build-up, you’ll also get a feel for how far your dog can go. If your dog keeps steadily adding the miles with no difficulties, when she can’t do it anymore, you’ll know that you’ve reached the limit. Make sure that you don’t push your dog too hard.
You want a training partner and remember to account for the fact that every human and every dog is different. Make sure that you don’t push your dog beyond a level that he is currently at.
In the end, running with your dog is great fun because it’s an excellent way to bond with your dog and get your workout in! At the same time, it’s important to be mindful of what your dog can handle and not overdo it. This way you’ll ensure years of good running with your dog!