Your Dog, Your Jogging Partner – Creating a Meaningful Workout
Jogging with a dog is a very popular activity for athletic dog owners. Besides, our dogs often really enjoy jogging with us. That’s because by nature they tend to be great endurance runners, and a person’s normal jogging speed is quite comfortable for them. As long as your dog is the right size to go for a jog with you, it can run alongside you with an easy gait. That is the safest pace for a dog. At the same time, your dog is improving its strength, stamina and musculature while strengthening its cardiovascular system without excessive stress.
As with all types of exercise you can do with your dog, there are a few things to consider when jogging. While many dog owners assume it makes sense to take their dog jogging, not every dog can jog or is suited for it.
Jogging with a dog – when is it definitely off limits?
Dogs that are not yet full-grown should never go for a jog with their owners. Depending on the size of the dog, it is considered fully grown at 12-18 months. Otherwise, there is a risk of permanent joint damage like arthrosis. You should also avoid taking older dogs jogging. In that case, the dog’s activity level needs to be adjusted based on its age. If your dog has always gone jogging with you, of course it will want to keep doing so as it ages. Our dogs are not capable of thinking rationally. But the pace should be slower, and adapted to the route. After your dog reaches a certain age, you should switch from jogging to relaxed walks for the sake of your dog’s health.
Fundamentally, jogging is also off limits if the dog has health problems, such as an infection, fever or inflammation. In that case, all exercise is taboo.
Some dogs are simply not suited for long-distance running because of their body type. That especially applies to dogs with solid, heavy bodies, like French bulldogs. But many small dog breeds, like dachshunds, are not suitable jogging companions either. Their short legs keep them from running alongside their owners at a relaxed pace.
So your dog needs to lose weight – jogging is perfect, right?!
Here, too, the clear answer is no. Overweight dogs need to lose some weight first, through a modified diet and targeted movement training, before they go jogging with their owners. Otherwise it will put too much strain on their joints, inevitably resulting in permanent joint damage.
The perfect dog for jogging – is there such a thing?
If you want to take your dog with you when you go jogging, it needs to be large enough to keep up with you comfortably at an easy pace. The dog should have a classically slim or normal build, which is well suited for endurance running. But even then, not every dog enjoys jogging.
What if my dog doesn’t want to run?
First of all, dogs naturally enjoy running. But there are still some canines who just don’t like physical activity. That is something you simply have to accept. But it is also important to make sure there aren’t any joint problems or other illnesses keeping your dog from enjoying a run.
How long can a dog run, and does it need to be in good shape?
As spring approaches, we are highly motivated to finally go jogging again and make our athletic goals a reality.
But especially after a winter break, or if you are just starting out with running for the first time, your workout program should build gradually. The workout units should be short, starting with a few minutes at an easy jogging pace and then slowing down to a walking speed for a few minutes. Go back to a jogging pace for a few minutes and then walk some more, switching off. Just like people, dogs need a chance to get in shape and build their stamina.
Especially at the beginning, you shouldn’t just exhaust yourself and the dog. That only puts stress on the cardiovascular system and musculature, giving both dog and person unpleasant muscle aches for the next few days.
If you notice your dog starting to slow down during the running phases and going back to a walking speed on its own, or if it starts to pant heavily, you should take a break right away or stop the workout.
What is the best running surface?
However you look at it, jogging is best out in nature. Since the ideal surface is soft and springy, woods and dirt paths are recommended for joint jogging expeditions. That will better cushion your movements and help protect your joints.
Asphalt and gravel paths are not good for people’s or dogs’ joints, and should be avoided.
Can my dog eat before a workout?
It’s not a good idea to work out on a full stomach. It also puts too much strain on the circulatory system. In addition, there is the risk of stomach torsion – so you are putting your dog at risk if it goes for a run with a full stomach. Please feed your dog at least 2 hours before you plan to work out, and also do not feed it during the workout.
Can my dog drink water during a workout?
Drinking is allowed. Before a run, during the run and of course afterward, your dog can drink as much as it wants to. A refreshing dip in a river or lake can also be a great way to cool off. But make sure your dog has cooled down from the exercise first and doesn’t jump into the water if it is overheated.
Warm up before you get started
Like all types of exercise, you should warm yourself and the dog up before starting a jog. A few active warmup exercises can be used to target the muscles and joints. That significantly reduces the risk of injury because the dog’s body will be more flexible once it is warmed up, and it can respond better to unexpected movements. The dog will also be mentally prepared for the upcoming workout, and more focused.
After a running workout, you should also take the time for a cooldown and let your dog run easily for a bit. That way your dog will recover more quickly, and its bodily functions will return to normal sooner.
How often can my dog go jogging?
Even if you are an enthusiastic runner, you should not work out with your dog more than every other day. The body always needs time to recover. Research has shown that muscles develop during the rest periods between workouts.
What about jogging in warm temperatures?
You often see people out jogging with their dogs in hot weather. That is a real no-no, because it is harmful to the dog’s health. Running in high temperatures puts extreme stress on the cardiovascular system. In addition, asphalt can get very hot, which can burn your dog’s paws.
If you want to keep jogging with your dog even in the summer, make sure to schedule your workouts in the early morning or late evening. Otherwise, you are exposing your dog to serious health risks.
After a workout
You should also watch your dog carefully during the hours after a workout and the next day. Are its movements normal, or stiff-legged and clumsy? Does the dog seem unusually tired? IF so, the workout might have been too long and your dog might be suffering from aching muscles, so you should adjust your workout level accordingly.