The weather is FINALLY improving around here and everyone is eager to get outside and make the most of it. If you enjoy a brisk jog in the fresh air, chances are - your dog does too! A new study by David Raichlen of the University of Arizona was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, presents evidence that dogs experience “runner’s high,” a euphoria-inducing buzz known to regular runners. Excerise offers the same benefits to canines as it does to people while at the same time providing socialzation opportunites. Here are some considerations and tips to get jog-happy with your dog:
Age & Breed: Just as with people, dogs have different energy levels depending on their age. An older dog (7+ years) may prefer a a brief, fast paced walk rather than running. A younger pup wtih a higher level energy is more suited for your neighborhood jog. Breed characteristics should also be evaluated. Small dogs have small legs and might rather chase a ball around the yard than exploring the neighborhood. The same goes for big, heavy breeds such as Newfoundlands, whose weight is not ideal for fast paced movement. Lastly, breeds with shorter snouts such as pugs & bulldogs will have trouble breathing for sustained periods so it's best to enjoy a simple walk with these friends.
Before the Jog: While it's not imperative, it is quite useful for your dog to know a few commands such as Heel, Sit and Stay. This will prevent any lurching into traffic or lagging behind, keeping you and your buddy at the same relative pace. Allow time for sniffing and potty before movement begins. Start by speed walking, to warm up the muscles and joints. Keep to a routine, jog the same distance and time on a regular basis to help train your pet. Jog only in the early morning or evening, when the sun and pavement are not as hot.
Off and Running: Always use a leash. This will prevent run-aways or unintended surprises to other pedestrians. There are several varieties of hand-free leashes available, or simply use a long lead on your wrist. Do not tie a leash to your waist, as it may throw off your balance. Be sure to have water on hand for both of you. Be viligiant about your dog's reaction. Often times, your pet will mask fatigue in an effort to keep up with you. Be sure to slow down and take a break if your dog is panting heavily. Continue to survey the landscape as you run to avoid trip hazards. Jog with only one dog - even if you're used to walking two or more dogs together, they may not be able to keep the same pace while running.
Post-Jog: Check your dog's footpads for debris; pebbles, glass shards or other matter could cause a tear to the pad which is very painful. Check your dog's coat for burrs, ticks or other pests. Do not feed immediately after excercise, wait a little while until the body has relaxed. Give your dog some encouraging affection, reminding him or her that they did a good job and it was a fun task.
(Photo Credit: www.dogdata.com)