Minnesotans know better than anyone how important it is to take advantage of good weather, and your dog wants in on the action too. There’s no better way to maximize your outdoor time together than by taking your dog with you when you walk — or when you run. But before you sign Fido up for his first 5K, here’s what you need to know:
1. Know thy dog. It’s always our first rule, and it’s a good one. Does your dog typically have a lot of energy, or is she a couch potato? Will your dog even enjoy this activity or will she consider this a cruel and unusual punishment? Also consider your dog’s breed — some dogs have a harder time breathing than others. Chat with your vet if you aren’t sure your dog is up for the challenge.
2. Slow and steady. If your dog is new to exercise, be patient — don’t expect too much too soon. Start with shorter distances at slower speeds and work your way up from there.
3. Pack for your pooch. Bring a portable water dish (we love this collapsible bowl) to fill up while you’re out so your dog stays hydrated. Bring along some treats too to help keep his energy up.
4. Safety is key. If you’re running in the evening, make sure both of you are wearing reflective gear, and consider getting a hands-free leash for your runs together. Never tie the leash to your wrist: an unexpected jerk could send you flying, causing injury to both you and your pooch.
5. Watch the weather. If it’s too hot for you, it’s way too hot for your dog. Keep your runs to cooler times of day (mornings and evenings).
6. Avoid hot asphalt. Put the back of your hand against the asphalt surface you plan to run on. If your hand isn’t comfortable there for a full six seconds, it’s not comfortable for your dog either. Keep your pup on grass or a dirt trail whenever possible.
7. Post care is important too. Check your dog’s feet for injury (scrapes, cuts, worn pads) after each run, and make sure he gets plenty of water once you get back home. And if you ran through the woods, check your buddy for ticks.
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