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6 Best Tips on How to Run with Your Dog

Posted 7/24/2018 by UHBlog

Want to turn your furry best friend into your new workout buddy? Talk to us about how accountability buddies can help you commit to a fitness routine.

Man runs with dog near the sea

If you’re looking for a running partner, four legs may be better than two. Rain or shine, your dog’s schedule is free and she’ll never skip a workout.

“It’s an asset to have a running partner to help keep you consistent,” says physical therapist Tim Pugliese, a runner and dog owner. “It’s easy to skip a run with a human running partner, but your dog is there, available, and will never bail on you.”

Running with a dog offers you benefits such as:

  • Improved physical and mental health benefits
  • Added safety when running, particularly for women
  • Better coping skills, which many studies attribute to human-pet bonds

Check with Your Vet

It’s important to know that not all dogs are natural-born runners.

“There’s a lot of variables to consider, including the breed, size, age and condition of the dog,” Mr. Pugliese says. “It’s a good idea to get your dog cleared by a veterinarian before running with them.”

If you and your dog are ready to hit the road, make sure that it’s a good experience for both of you.

Tips for You and Your Dog

Mr. Pugliese recommends these tips for a workout with your dog:

  1. Warm up. “Go for a little walk first so your dog can get limbered up if it’s been lying around all day. This is also a good opportunity for your dog to relieve itself so you’re not stopping mid-run,” he says.
  2. Consider the surface. Dog paws can burn on hot pavement.
    “It’s like us running without shoes on hot blacktop,” Mr. Pugliese says. “Take care of your dog’s foot pads and consider running on softer, cooler surfaces like grass on hot days.”
  3. Timing is key. Dogs can suffer from bloat, a potentially fatal condition, if fed or given too much water in too soon before a run.
  4. Train your dog. "Training is important so there’s an expectation of good behavior on the leash,” Mr. Pugliese says. “Teach the dog to be a good walker first so it stays on one side of you and doesn’t lunge or pull.”
    Training also can include teaching your dog to drink from a water bottle and only sniffing on an “okay” command instead of whenever the dog wants.
  5. Avoid the heat. For the sake of your and your dog’s health, avoid running in the heat of the day.
    “Don’t have your dog run on an overly hot or humid day and be sure to choose a shaded route that has water available on it,” he says.
  6. Progress slowly. “A recommended human progression is a 10 to 20 percent increase in running distance per week. Your dog will progress similarly,” Mr. Pugliese says. “Don’t expect a dog to run three miles right away or on too many consecutive days.”

For more ideas on how to get into a consistent running routine and avoid injury, a University Hospitals physical therapist can help. See a list of our physical therapy services and locations or call 216-286-REHAB (7342) for more information.

Tim Pugliese, PT, CMPT, OCS, is a physical therapist at University Hospitals Avon Health Center. You can request an appointment with Pugliese or any other health care provider online.

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