Exercise for Dogs
Exercising Your Dog continued...
On-leash running, inline skating or bicycling These are great ways to
exercise a healthy dog and keep yourself fit, too. Teaching your dog how to
walk without pulling on her leash is the first essential step to creating a
safe and enjoyable on-leash jogging, inline skating or bicycling companion. If
your dog forges ahead, pulls to the side or lags behind you when you walk,
imagine the problems that could result when you're moving faster! Constantly
pulling on the leash can damage your dog’s throat, and it’s no fun for you
either. (Please see our article, Teaching
Your Dog Not to Pull on Leash, for more information.)
Here are some tips and things to consider when you and your dog try life in
the fast lane:
- People are actually better suited for jogging or long-distance running than
dogs are. Even when hunting or herding, dogs tend to move in short, intense
bursts of speed with intermittent stops. Playing dogs do this as well, stopping
to sniff around, eliminate and enjoy the scenery. If you jog with your dog on
leash, be careful not to overestimate her abilities and go too far. If she
seems stiff, sore and exhausted for hours afterward, scale back next time.
Also, be careful to check your dog’s paws after a run. Dogs get blisters on
their pads, just like people get blisters on their feet. Dogs with white or
light-colored footpads and some breeds, such as border collies, can be prone to
this problem. If you usually run, cycle or inline skate on paved roads, avoid
doing so on very hot days. Instead, you can find some soft surfaces that won’t
injure your dog's footpads, such as dirt and grass. Or if your dog’s footpads
seem especially sensitive, you can purchase special shoes made for dogs, like
Muttluks® dog boots (www.muttluks.com).
- If your dog normally gets to sniff around on your daily walks, she’ll
probably try to do the same when the two of you are running, skating or
cycling. You’ll have to teach her to pay attention to you during your outings.
The best way to do this is by regularly rewarding her with small treats for not pulling. Pick
the position you want her to run in and give her treats when she’s in that
spot. Before you set off, give your dog ample time to relieve herself and sniff
around. And after you finish your outing, you can give her another chance to
eliminate and sniff before bringing her inside.
- Again, sustained jogging or running is not recommended for young dogs whose
bones haven’t finished growing. It can also be hard on large dogs’ joints and
bones. If you have a young dog, check with her veterinarian to find out when
it’s safe for her to start running. If you have a large dog, ask her
veterinarian if it’s safe for her to run with you.
- Because teaching a dog not to pull on leash can be challenging, don’t
hesitate to enlist the help of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) in
your area. A professional trainer will offer group or private classes that can
give you and your dog lots of help with leash walking. Please see our article,
Help, to locate a CPDT near you.