To maximize health, safety and fun, dog trainer Jill Freifeld of Happy Hound Pet Care in Silver Spring offers these suggestions:
●Have your dog checked by your veterinarian to be sure it’s fit and healthy enough to run.
●Puppies should not run long distances while their bodies are still developing; it could stress their joints and damage forming bones. Older dogs with any physical limitations that make running painful or unsafe also should not run (again, check with your vet).
● Take your dog’s breed into account; smaller dogs and brachycephalic dogs (those with short noses and pushed-in faces) will tire more quickly than larger dogs and those bred to hunt or herd.
●To avoid accidentally yanking on your dog’s neck and to maximize comfort, try a harness rather than a collar.
●Never run your dog when the weather’s too hot; dogs have poor temperature self-regulation and overheat easily (plus, they have fur coats on).
●Ease your dog into running. It needs to be conditioned just as you did when you began running, plus its paw pads must be toughened gradually.
●Always bring water.
● Familiarize yourself with signs of overheating to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation.
●On hot days, stick to grass, earth and shade, because pavement can quickly reach paw-searing temperatures (when in doubt, hold the palm of your hand to the pavement for five seconds).
●Make sure your dog has an ID tag with your phone number in case you get separated.
●Use a regular five- or six-foot leash to keep your dog close by.
● Train your dog to stay by your side by first teaching loose leash walking and/or “Heel,” then work up to varying your pace.
● Teach your dog the “Wait” cue and reinforce attentiveness to you to help prevent trip-ups and other potential dangers.
● Give your dog a chance to relieve himself before you head out for your run. Bring bags to clean up.
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