Photo Credit: Rita Earl Photography

Furry Friends Can Take You Farther: How to Start Running With Your Pet

I am going to be honest with you – I am one of those people who hates spending time away from their pet. My dog provides me with comfort, happiness, and even makes me feel safer on a day-to-day basis. With that being said, while getting ready for any Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series race, I am constantly going on training runs, which means I am away from my house a few hours every day. Instead of leaving my fur child at home, I have made it a point to convert my snuggle buddy into my number one training partner. 

While pets cannot be with you on race day, it is a great way to have some bonding time during the training process. However, if you are new to the training process, especially with a pet, I wanted to offer some tips and tricks for making the mileage build-up easier (and safer) for you and your furry friend.

Build slowly.

Just like you, your pet needs to build up their mileage slowly. Gradually adding distance to training runs for your pet helps prevent injury and allows your furry friend to ENJOY working out with you (could you imagine if your first training run ever was ten miles?!). In order to ease my dog into running with me when I start training for a race, I run half a mile away from home with her on a leash and then back. I then drop her off at home where she can be safe and comfortable before continuing on my run to get in the rest of my mileage.  As my training progresses I add on a quarter of a mile outbound in distance, so she slowly gets used to running further. I do this three days in a row and allow her a rest day before we start again.

Hydrate.

Let me say it again: HYDRATE. When out on a run, I always carry enough water for myself and my pup, or I plan a route that has water fountains so that we can stop for water breaks. This can help keep your pet from overheating. Instead of carrying a huge water bowl with me, I carry a folding measuring cup, so I can keep re-filling it for her without having to carry something incredibly bulky (sometimes even portable pet bowls can be cumbersome). Making sure your pup is properly taking in fluids allows for a safer and healthier exercise regime for both of you.

Did you say treats?

Just like a human, as pets increase activity, they need calories. On runs, I pack my fuel bag with a little bag of doggy treats to keep my pet’s energy up, and also use them as a training tool. Lately, I have been giving my pup glucosamine treats; she loves the taste, and they help her hips and joints feel less achy after more activity.

Recover!

Again, a pet’s experience running is not much different than a human’s. They need rest days. Make sure to give your pet a day off in between training runs (I never run my pup more than three days in a row) so that their muscles can recover, and so they will be more rested for their next outing with you!

All in all, training with your pet should be fun and safe. Every animal is different, so you should always be aware of what is best for your pup. However, getting regular exercise with your pup can tighten your bond. I’ll bet getting your pet some exercise will motivate you to get outside even more and spend a little extra time with your best furry friend.