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Tips on Running With Your Dog

by Jennifer Cardin - co-Founder and former Director of Member Services at Leashup.com

With the weather starting to get nicer and summer just around the corner, your mind starts to think of all of the fun activities you and your dog can do outside together.  Running or jogging with your dog is a wonderful way to keep fit, and  your best friend will love spending the time with you and getting exercise.  The place that I  go running that I enjoy most is the beach.  I love watching the ocean waves, smelling the sea air, and feeling the sand beneath my feet.  Kayla and Ema love it, too.  I think it is because the beach stretches out and seems to go on forever, which means plenty of room to run!  There are important things, however, to take into consideration before you head out the door.  Not all beaches will allow you to take your best friend with you, and some have only certain hours that you can bring your dog.  Most beaches that do allow canines require that you have them on a leash, so be sure yours is in top condition to avoid it breaking and your dog running free.  If you think your leash is on its last leg, get a new one.  Remember: each beach's dog policy is different, so if you are planning a trip, be sure to find out if Rover can come with you or not.   This may save you some unneeded hassle.

Wherever you decide to go running, make sure you have everything you need to make the outing as comfortable as possible for your dog, as well as yourself.  One of the most important things to take with you is plenty of water.  Keeping both you and your dog hydrated helps prevent fatigue and it refreshes you.  If it is a really warm day you will need to stop more often for a drink.  Just be sure to check how your dog is acting at all times.  If you see him/her panting heavily  or really struggling, you know it's time for a break.  If you are going on a long excursion, bring food with you as well.  Having a light back pack on a day trip is a good idea to put all of your supplies in.  Keep it light so you don't weight yourself down too much; if it's too heavy you won't enjoy your run at all!  If you want to give your dog the responsibility of carrying his/her share of the supplies, you can get a pack for your canine too!  Another great item to own is the collapsible food and water dish which is so lightweight.  It is designed for making your life easier. 

    Making sure you keep your dog comfortable and always checking for signs that your dog is o.k. are two of the most crucial things you can do to ensure a safe adventure.  One thing you may not be able to detect from your dog's attitude is how the pads of his/her feet are holding up.  Dogs love to run and get exercise and can withstand almost anything because they are having such a good time.  Most don't seem to realize if they've cut or scraped the bottoms of their feet, and keep running as if nothing is wrong.  This is why it is important that you check this for them.  It is especially important if you've gone over particularly rough terrain or been running, jogging, or hiking for most of the day.  When you stop for one of your water breaks, just lift up Rover's paws and look for any signs of injury.  If you notice any bleeding or scraping, it is best to call it a day.  Your best friend will thank you for it in the long run! 

    Now that you have your dog ready for your run, here are some last things to remember to take care of you.  One, always wear sunscreen!  You may not think you will get burned, but being exposed to the sun for any period of time puts you at risk of developing skin cancer down the line.  Two, don't push yourself too much!  Challenging yourself is a good thing, but if you are feeling faint or extremely tired, it is best to stop for the day.  If you are a beginner and you want a challenge, increase the amount of time you run gradually.  For example, the first week run one mile, the second week go for a mile and a half or two miles, the third week two and a half or three miles, etc.  This way you know that you are doing something that your body can handle.  Three, make sure you are wearing the the right clothing and shoes!  Wear something that will allow your skin to breath and allow sweat to pass through the fabric.  Cotton isn't advisable because it holds in the moisture and makes your clothes heavy and wet.  Make sure you have on a synthetic material of some sort.  Lycra/spandex is a good choice for summer because it is pretty lightweight.  If you are going on an all day adventure, make sure to bring an extra layer with you.  It can get pretty cold on some summer nights, and you want to be prepared in case the temperature drops!  For shoes, a good pair of running sneakers is the best investment you can make.  Wearing ratty old sneakers or plain canvas sneakers that are not designed for running could lead to major blisters, a sprained ankle, or something much more serious.  Why take that chance? 

I hope this article gets you prepared and excited for some great summer running with your dog!  Enjoy your adventure and know that by spending this time with your best friend you are making their day and yours as well!  Happy Running!

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