Do you want to run with your four-legged best friend at this year’s Y Turkey Trot Charity 5K? Here are some tips to help you and your pup have the best experience possible!
All dogs should start with leash walking to learn control and manners. Teach your pet basic commands like “sit,” “stay” and “leave it.” Keep the leash short, about 2 to 3 feet so that your dog won’t pull you and becomes accustomed to being next to you, rather than in front of you. If you begin with proper leash walking, the switch to running will be easier and more enjoyable for both of you!
Consider your dog’s age, health, and breed. If you have a puppy, it’s best to stick to walking until their bones are fully developed, typically around 18 months. It’s also worth noting that breeds with short, squished noses are more susceptible to overheating and cannot take in enough oxygen to accommodate strenuous physical exertion. Not all dogs are runners, so it is important to take these things into consideration. You can get just as much enjoyment and exercise from walking together! When in doubt, check with your veterinarian.
Remember to start slowly, just as you would when beginning a training plan for yourself. Begin with 10 minutes of running every other day. Then add 10 minutes each week until you reach your projected 5K time. This gradual increase will allow adaptation without injury. This is also a good time for some trail running! The grass or dirt is easier on everyone’s joints! Be aware of wildlife and make sure your pet is up to date on flea and tick prevention. Take extra care to stop for water breaks and monitor your pup’s breathing to ensure he or she isn’t overheating (signs include seeming lethargic or weak, excessive panting and dark red gums).
When you’re done, take time to cool down and reward your dog with a nice head scratch and some extra attention!