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Why run with your pup? As explained by DogVacay, running is a mutually beneficial activity that can serve as a great bonding experience for you and your pooch.
While walking is good exercise, most dogs need an opportunity to run in order to burn off their energy. Running uses different muscles than walking, and will increase your dog’s heart rate more than walking. Activities that increase heart rate are known as cardiovascular exercise, which will help increase the strength of your dog’s heart and can extend their lifetime. Many owners also note that their dogs are less likely to be destructive when they are allowed to run regularly. While the health benefits for your dog may be enough to encourage you to run, running with your dog is also great for your own health. Research has shown that individuals who are moderately active experience great health benefits, like weight loss, muscle building, and protection against diseases. Running a few times a week with your dog is a good way to maintain a moderate level of activity for both you and your pup.
Along with the physical benefits, there are many mental benefits that come from running with your dog. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce mental disorders, including anxiety and depression. Add this to the fact that spending time with a pet has been shown to reduce these disorders, and running with your dog can become a great part of your treatment plan. Running with your dog can also help reduce stress, as touch and movement are the two quickest methods of relieving stress. Moving with your dog and patting them as praise for good behavior can really help to better your mental outlook. In addition, running with your dog is a great bonding activity that can help to better your relationship.
A Perfect Match
A dog is a perfect running partner. Research done at the University of Missouri has shown that individuals who exercise with their dogs are more likely to stick with their workout routine. Your dog will begin to look forward to your regular runs, and you will find it hard to resist those big eyes and wagging tail. Runners also find that bringing their dog along on their runs helps them to focus less on their running time or calories burned, and instead turn their attention to enjoying their workout. Running with your dog will help to motivate you both to enhance your physical and mental health.
Before leashing up your pooch and hitting the road or trails, be sure to read Active.com’s training tips to ensure your pup is prepared:
Basic Training Tips
Before you start running with your dog, make sure he is healthy and ready for the exercise. Dogs that are too old or too young might not be able to handle a running program. In fact, dogs that are younger than 18 months should stick to walking. Puppies’ bones are still developing up to 18 months old and running can impact the development of bones for optimal long-term physical integrity. Walking with a younger dog will help build a strong base for a future running program.
For dogs that are 18 months or older, start the same way you would. If your dog is new to running, don’t set out for a 5-mile run. Start slow and build your mileage together. Consistency over time is the best approach.
How Far To Run
Start with a 10-minute run and then add 10 minutes each week until you reach your desired time or distance. Gradual build up allows for the muscles and connective tissue to adapt and grow to the activity without injury.
With time, your dog will adapt to your pace. This can be frustrating in the beginning. Many dogs want to go much faster than you are capable of and you find yourself trying to hang on to the leash. Others dogs may lag behind and appear distracted, which leads many dog owners to think their dog doesn’t like to run.
In both cases, the dog simply doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do. You have to teach him how to be a runner. With a little patience and time, the two of you will be running side-by-side at a good pace.
Leash Training Tips
Dogs that already walk nicely on a leash will transition to running with ease. A dog that pulls can be challenging.
The first thing to do is shorten the leash. If you have a 6-foot leash, and you let your dog get in the habit of walking ahead of you, he’ll continue to pull. Instead, keep the leash short enough that your dog is by your side, 2 to 3 feet at the most.
5K or 10K Training Plan
There are many 5K and 10K running plans to help you build distance and pace. You can try one of those or start out with something even easier.
To start, figure out your average mile time. Use a local track or mark the distance in your car and then time your mile run at a comfortable pace.
Once you have a comfortable pace, take that time and multiply it by the miles to get your run time for a 5K (3.1 miles) or 10K, (6.2 miles). Example: 11-minute mile x 3.1 miles = 34.1 minutes
Begin running with your dog 10 minutes every other day for a week. Then, the next week add another 10 minutes to your running time. Continue training every other day. The third week add another 10 minutes. The fourth week add another. Continue this process until you reach your projected time. Once you reach your projected time, keep running with your dog.