The following is a guest post from Sean Winfield. Sean, writer, dog lover and runner who doesn’t enjoy running alone. Because of this, he uses a running stroller and takes his 2 year old son Paul along with him while he runs with Lennon in the park. That way Sean has lots of company and distractions. Sean enjoys sharing his running strategies with others to help them achieve a healthy, active lifestyle.
When I’m taking my dog, 3 year old Boxer mix Lennon, out for a run, I’ve become conscious of what he likes and doesn’t like as it pertains to running surfaces. Being conscious of the current conditions of your environment and the surface that you are running on is important to prevent injuries and provide the most comfort for your pet.
Where to Find the Best Surfaces for Running With Your Dog?
The Beach – If you are lucky enough to live near a beach, taking your dog to the sandy shoreline for a run can be a cardiovascular endurance challenge for both of you. People and dogs are alike in that they enjoy outdoor exercise in a variety of places. One of the biggest benefits when I take Lennon for a run on the beach is that his stamina and endurance increases noticeably.
A sandy surface is gentler on your dog’s paws, as opposed to an asphalt surface, because sand, even when firm is softer and free of debris. Sand is such a great surface that even the dog’s master could go barefoot.
The Park – Some cities have installed artificial turf that is suited for running with your dog. If your park has installed a turf similar to K9 Grass®, your pet will get to enjoy turf that is heat resistant. This keeps their paws from getting scorched like they could on a concrete or asphalt surface on those hot days. If you must use the asphalt paths, ensure that you are doing so when the temperature of the surface is at a bearable level for your dog.
Many parks feature nature trails that allow you to take your dog on a jog through wooded areas. If artificial turf isn’t available to you, a nature trail may be your next best option. Wooded areas typically feature shaded trails that keep the ground cooler than a gravel trail on a hot a day.
If you haven’t taken your dog on a wooded trail before, it is extremely important to scout out the terrain before taking your dog into the woods. Depending on your area, you will want to look for signs of predatory animals or plants such as poison ivy and poison oak before bringing your dog along.
The Neighborhood – Your dog’s natural instincts instruct him to want to know the area in which he lives in. This is often why dogs will attempt to bolt out of your front door as soon as it is opened.
Familiarizing your dog with your neighborhood will calm his natural urge to want to go around and scout out the area. Acquainting your dog with the entire neighborhood is beneficial because as you run alongside your dog, they create a mental map of the neighborhood.
Dogs are smart enough to remember routes to and from your house which is beneficial in the unlikely event that your pet becomes lost.
What places should you avoid when running with your dog?
Gravel trails – Although most gravel trails will be harmless, the natural calluses of your dog’s paws can only take so much abuse. Remember, when you take one stride, your dog’s feet are hitting the ground 4 times. Running on a gravel trail for a short amount of time could be okay but it is not recommended for an extended time period.
Wood chip trails – While a wood chip trail is a soft surface for a dog to run upon, the dangers of this lie within your dog ingesting one of the wood chips on the trail. Dogs naturally like to sniff around and if you are at a resting point, your dog’s natural curiosity could get the best of him.
If you have a dog like Lennon, he will try to eat anything! It might sound silly, but this could cause choking issues or intestinal issues. Although rare, the wood chip trails have helped spread bacteria and fungus that is harmful your dog. You should avoid wood chip trails because of these dangers.
Once you’ve selected the best surface available in your area, it’s important for you and your dog to stay properly hydrated. Wearing a running hydration belt is one way I manage to keep Lennon and I hydrated during our run. We always shared my water and my running hydration belt holds plenty of water to last us through the run. Keep in mind that hydrating your tired puppy is the key to keeping your dog energized and refreshed.