Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Do you want to start running with your dog but have no idea how to do it?
If you are also a beginner, that's a great opportunity to build up your physical condition together. Plus, training with your dog will certainly give you an extra motivation to go outside!
If you are an experienced runner already, be aware that your dog is not and he or she needs to improve his physical condition just like you did when you began. In this case, you can start doing your warm-ups with your buddy and/or including little intervals of running on his walking sessions.
But the very first thing you have to do is to consult a vet and make sure your dog's health is in order and that he is allowed to join you on your training routines. It is also very important to make sure he likes running. Even though 99% of healthy dogs won't deny a running session!
I would also like to mention the importance of the match in terms of what I call running styles. By that I mean that you might, for instance, be reasonable fast and like running long distances but has this little tiny dog. In that case, you must be aware that your dog won't probably be able to join you for too long but would certainly love to join you at parts of your training and your recovery sessions, for instance. On the other hand, if you have this super energetic big dog but you are a beginner, it is a good idea to let your dog waste some energy before you start running, otherwise he will probably pull you all the way and this can actually hurts you if you are not used to it.
It's also very important to get the right material to assure nor you or your dog gets injured while running together. The right material, however, depends of the dog type but also how exactly you, as a duo, run.
The belt is, in any case, a very useful tool for all kind of dog runners. This allows you to run hands free and believe me: this makes a huge difference. When we run holding something, we usually stop moving our arm - and that makes us running weird! I like this canicross belt a lot. They are also tight on our legs and therefore they don't move up when we run. They are originally made for dogs that run in front and pulling, but I use them all the time: even when I run with my dogs by my side. But that's really personal. You also have these simple belts without the leg straps.
When it gets to the line, a bungee is mandatory. This allows you and your dog to run more confortable since if for some reason the line gets tight (your dog sees a cat and runs crazy or because you asked him to pull in a competition for instance), you both don't feel the impact that much. It's actually not only a comfort issue: it's also about safety and can surely prevent injuries. The length of the line also varies accordingly to where and how you run, of course. You will certainly find out what better suits for you on the first kms.
Last but not least, comes the dog's harness. While running, I wouldn’t ever choose for a neck collar. Even if the dog runs besides you; It just doesn’t feel right to me. And when it comes to harness, make sure your dog can move his shoulders freely. Some harness has this horizontal stripe crossing in front of the dog's shoulders, but if you think about it, it can restrain the shoulder movement. So make sure you choose harness with a vertical stripe on the chest.
Importantly, also remember to consider where your dog prefers to run: besides or in front of you. If your dog is a puller and you are willing to compete on canicross, for instance, make sure you have this canicross harness in which the dog's body and strength is well distributed when he pulls.
If the dog runs preferably and mostly by your side, I would suggest you to choose this next one, which is lighter, cheaper and in which the line connects upwards.
You might have noticed that I said "where your dog prefers to run". And that's right!
A dog's preference is very important when you decide bringing him to run with you. I preferably let the dog decide where he/she wants to run - but I also make sure they learn all the commandos in case I need them, for some reason, to move from one position to another.
I have this two dogs and one of them is a puller and likes running in front of us even when he is not pulling (in a long run for instance). And my other dog clearly prefers to run besides/a bit after me.
But please note that allowing them to choose does not mean letting them do whatever they want or cross in front of you, for instance. It's important that they make their choice but than learn how, for our safety, to stay there until we give them another commando.
Hope you enjoyed the tips!
Next time I will write about how to teach your dog important commands such as turns, stop, keep running, pull and slow down.
I wish you plenty of kms with your new running mate!