In this blog post we talk about running with your dog and how you can include your furry friend in your running routine. Here to help us is Dr. Katy Nelson, also known as "Dr. Pawz" on WTOP News Radio and the host of the "The Pet Show with Dr. Katy" on DC's NewsChannel 8. She is a practicing veterinarian with over 14 years of experience, she is passionate about reducing pet obesity and is a champion of human/pet fitness and nutrition.
To learn more about Dr. Katy, or watch back episodes of "The Pet Show," visit her website here: www.thepetshow.tv.
We all know that getting outdoors and putting some miles in makes us happier, healthier and helps us live longer. But what about our dogs? There is nothing dogs enjoy more than going out for a walk with their human. So, how do you take it one step further to turn your dog into your running partner? You do it slowly.
Dr. Nelson's Top 3 Benefits of Running with Rover
1) Physical - Whether your pet is overweight (as almost 60% of the pet population is), or the perfect weight, exercise is the key to getting and staying healthy. Building lean muscle mass and cardiovascular endurance will not only help your pet to feel better (and last longer on the trails with you), but lean muscle also consistently burns more calories even when your pet is at rest.
2) Mental - "Idle paws lead to the devil's handiwork." A bored or stressed dog is a dog that is going to get himself into trouble. We all know the endorphin release that we enjoy after a good workout, and well, our pets are no different. Exercise leads to stress release, and a much happier pooch at the end of the leash (not to mention a happier human on the other end). After all, a tired dog is a good dog.
3) Bonding - We all know that having a workout partner keeps us more consistent, and what better partner than one with big brown eyes that you could never say no to? One that's thrilled at the end of every day when you walk through the door and loves you unconditionally. As you build to a comfortable level together, you both will enjoy your time together so much that it may just become your favorite part of your day.
First Steps to Run with Rover
Now that we know all of the benefits of running with your four-legged friend, how do we take those first few steps? "First and foremost, have your pet examined by your veterinarian prior to starting any exercise program to ensure that their heart and joints are healthy enough to start running. And while you're there, ensure that they're up to date on their flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives as well as their vaccines, as running outside is better done with good protection in place." says Dr. Nelson.
As humans, we know that we should start any new program slowly. You can't run 10 miles without running all the miles in between, right? It's the same for dogs. Start with a short run, maybe a half mile or a mile and then build up endurance. We also know that stretching after a run is important to make sure we reduce muscle soreness. This is important for dogs as well, so have Rover move from a sitting to standing position and then back down several times to flex his/her hip and knee joints.
How about positive reinforcement? Well, turns out just like us, dogs LOVE positive reinforcement so go ahead, give Rover that pat on the head and tell him/her what a good job they did.
- Make sure toenails are clipped so their paws strike the ground flat
- Give water an hour before running and immediately after a run give a small amount from an elevated bowl. Gulping can cause potentially fatal GI distress so a little bit at a time is key.
- On hot days, start earlier or stay under the cover of trees. Remember, pavement can be hot so keep those paws cool by letting Rover run on the grass if possible.
- Small snacks are ok, but just like us, a big meal can weigh Rover down. Feed Rover an hour or 2 before the run to give him time to digest his food.
- Attach the doggie leash to a body harness to prevent pulling or yanking on the neck which can cause disc issues.
As with all running programs it helps if you have friends to keep you accountable and to give you that boost along the way. We're excited to introduce our first "Rover Run" on Saturday, 5/9 to provide any support you need on your journey to better health and bonding with your dog.
We hope you will join us and make this part of your and your dogs' healthy routine. We will spend a few minutes with introductions and discussing doggie etiquette and then we'll go for a 1 mile run (and don't worry, fast walking is welcomed too). We will be there to help you every step of the way and provide assistance as needed. For details on the Rover Run, please go to our meetup group.
Keep on Running!
Julia, Patrick & Jo-Jo
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