Summer Workouts with your Furry Friend
Summer officially started today – Hoorah! That being said, a lot of you are getting – and staying – in shape running outside. And what better way to enjoy the weather? (aside from lying on the beach, of course )
Since our four-legged friends need exercise, too – especially after being cooped-up in the house all day – I also see a lot of people bringing their dogs along for their runs.
Here are a few Guidelines to make sure both you and your furry companion stay healthy and happy while hitting the road:
1. Start off slowly – A lot of us have spent time at the gym over the Winter, so for now you could be in better shape than your dog, which is something a lot of us forget. I know I’ve done it – it’s easy to think, “My dog has tons of energy! If I can do four miles, she definitely can”.
Unless you’ve had your dog on a treadmill, or running regularly the last few months, your pooch will need to ramp-up their fitness levels, just like us two-legged mammals.
Start with some short runs of 1/2 Mile or so, and build-up gradually. Until they can do the same distance you can, you may want to take them out on your ‘light’ workout days to avoid getting frustrated with your pup.
Or you can do what I do….there’s a two mile Loop near our house. When they’re still getting in shape, I take mine on that loop, drop them off at home, and then do the same run a second time by myself. This way, we all get a good workout in, nobody overdoes it, and I’m not annoyed I have to walk the last half of our run.
2. Avoid Hot days – For the most part, dogs love to run. Just keep in mind they usually don’t do well running in temperatures above 80 degrees. “Why?”, you may be asking yourself. Well, I really only have two words….
When I go for a run in hot weather, I like to wear as little as legally possible to keep from overheating and getting dehydrated. Unfortunately, our pooches don’t have the option of putting their fur in Cold Storage, and their coats adds about another 20 degrees to their body temperatures.
Basically, it’d be the same thing as you going for a run wearing your favorite Winter coat.
3. Let your dog run on grass when possible – If it’s really hot out, the pavement gets super-duper steamy, which can lead to two potential issues:
a. Your pup’s paws can get burned and damage (ouch!)
b. Dogs can overheat – Dogs can’t sweat, so they release heat 1) By panting and 2) Through their paws. If the ground is really hot, the second option doesn’t work very well.
What I do lots of times is I’ll run on the pavement, and will let my dogs run next to me on whatever grass is available.
Which is the perfect segue into my next topic…..
4. Bring doggie poop bags – Unless you really want to piss-off your neighbors (pun intended), you’ll want to bring those oh-so-cute blue baggies with you to pick up after Fido’s unseemly messes. Nobody wants to watch someone let their dog poop all over their nicely-manicured lawn, so please — don’t be that person.
5. Water – Just in case your dog does get overheated or thirsty on your run, it helps to bring a small water bottle with you for quick,or emergency, hydration. There are plenty of inexpensive bottle which are easy to carry, like the tiny bottles that attach to a Velcro belt you wear around your waist.
Yeah, okay – they’re a little nerdy….but it’s better than you or your dog getting sick from heat exhaustion. So suck it up, put on your Nerd Hat, and get some transportable water bottles!
Also, to state the obvious, be sure and give your dog access to lots of water when you get back from your run. I’m sure you’re thirsty after a run, and they sure as heck are, too.
What should you do if your dog gets overheated?
- Slow your pace when they can’t keep up with you
- Put ice cubes in their water when you get home
- If they still seem too hot even after you’re done with your workout, get them to lie down and place bags of frozen peas on their chests, somewhat close to their hearts. This will help cool the blood before it’s transported throughout their bodies (it’s similar to Professional Athletes wearing cooling vests)
- If your dog seems extremely ill and doesn’t seem to be getting better, bring them to the Vet as soon as possible
Although we’ve talked about a few instances where some sort of intervention might be required, the majority of you will have wonderful experiences working out (and bonding ) with your fuzzy-faced companion and will have a great time getting in shape together!
Now, go on and be sure to get out there and enjoy the Summer as much as possible!