If you are a regular runner, you know it can be a great cardio exercise. It can also be great exercise for your dog. Those with smaller dogs may also be wondering if it’s a good idea to take your little dog on a run with you. Can you? Should you? Well, yes and no. Small dogs can go for runs just as well as big dogs can but there are a few factors you should keep in mind before you take your little buddy on a run with you.
Health Of Your Dog
Much like humans, you can’t expect a dog to be able to run two miles right away. Some small dogs just don’t have the stamina to do this when just starting out. If your dog is old and in poor health, it’s probably better that you don’t make them your running partner. If they have trouble with their joints on a daily basis, they won’t be able to run very long with you. You also don’t want to initiate any joint and bone problems if they don’t have them already.
Before you take your dog for a run for the first time, you should make sure to check with a veterinarian to be sure they are in tip top shape. Humans who are out of shape shouldn’t be attempting a lengthy run on their first run and neither should a dog.
Breed Of Your Dog
Dogs have it in their DNA to run. It’s what their ancestors did long ago. However, there are some breeds that are just not cut out for running long distances. If your dog is a “smooshed face” breed like a pug, it will have a hard time breathing on long runs and will get tired very fast.
Other type of dogs like bull dogs or corgis have abnormal shaped legs, or bow legs, that makes running difficult. It can also put a lot of pressure on their joints and cause them pain. Running can also cause back problems for these little dogs so sticking with short walks will be better for their health in the long run. Short, stumpy legs just aren’t made for running!
Toy breeds do not make good running partners. They might seem to be full of endless energy but they have to work overtime just to keep up with you. Their legs are tiny and short so for every step you take (or run), they have to take at least 5 to keep up. Because of this, they will get worn out easily. These tiny dogs don’t make the best running partners and are a better walking buddy.
Even if your dogs is a type of breed that would make a good running companion, a small puppy shouldn’t be going on runs with you just yet. Sure, they are full of energy and could probably use an excuse to run off all that energy. However, their bones are still in the process of growing and running can compromise their bone growth. If they start running too soon, puppies can have bone and joint problems later in life. Make sure you check with your vet first to be sure it is safe for them to run with you. Usually by about 8 months old, they should be good to go.
Some of the best small dog breeds to run with are the Jack Russel Terrier, Papillons, Miniature Poodles, Miniature Pinschers, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Whippets. This isn’t to say your little dog can’t be a good runner if they are not one of these breeds. Of course it can. These breeds are just some of the best small dogs to run with
Tips For Running With Small Dogs
Now that you have determined that your little dog is capable of going on a run with you, there are a few things to keep in mind while you do.
- Take it Slow – You might be an avid runner but your pup isn’t (yet)! Conditioning is important for humans and it is just as important for small dogs. You didn’t start off by running 5 miles did you? Probably not. You started slow right? You ran for a few minutes, took a break walking, and then ran a few more minutes. You ended up building up enough stamina to be able to go as far as you do. Do this with your dog. Take it slow and build up to longer runs. Soon your little dog will be running in stride with you!
Ponyo plum tuckered out after a day at the park.
- Observe How They Run – Dogs will just keep going and going, even if they are tired. They don’t stop when they are getting tired. No, they stop when they literally can’t go anymore. Don’t let your dog get to this point. If a dog is running ahead of you or keeping stride with you, they are doing fine and aren’t tired yet. If they fall behind and you are practically dragging them, you know it’s time to stop and let them catch their breath.
- Be Aware of the Terrain – Much like for humans, concrete isn’t great for a dog’s joints. The terrain has to have a little more give to it in order to avoid joint injuries. Paths with grass, asphalt, or dirt are better for everyone! Also be aware of uneven terrain. Your little buddy might not be able to see the steps or the rocks in the middle of the path. This can result in a misstep and possible an injury. If you encounter uneven terrain, it might be a better idea to walk that part of the path.
- Bring Water – You’re going to get thirsty on your run and so will your small dog. When you take a water break, make sure your dog takes a drink as well. It’s just as much of a workout for them as it is for you! Of course dogs can’t drink out of water bottles so make sure you have a way for him to drink the way a dog can. Perhaps bring a small bowl or purchase a dog water bottle. It is important to keep in mind that dogs can over drink and get bloated. Check with your vet to make sure you know how much your little dog should be drinking while out on a run.
- Keep it Short- Sure your dog can build up to a long run with you with enough practice, but they still shouldn’t be running as far as you can. A few miles is great but try not to take them on 8 mile runs. Really long marathons can be detrimental to a dog’s health. They aren’t really made for it. This is especially true for small dogs. Remember, they have to work a lot harder to keep up with you while running. If you want to go for a long run, you’re better off going alone or going with other people.
- Mind the Weather – If it is really hot, it might be harder for your small dog to keep up. Keep this in mind when running with them. Also keep in mind that their paws will be hitting hot pavement and can burn them. If you place the back of your hand on the pavement and it is too hot to touch, it’s too hot for your dog to run on!
Rainy weather might cause the terrain to be slippery, causing your dog to misstep and possibly injuring them self. You have your fancy shoes to keep you from slipping, they just have their paws. You might not mind running with snow on the ground but your legs are much longer. A little bit of snow might seem like a lot of snow for little dogs. If the weather isn’t favourable for running with your dog, let them stay home while you brave the elements.
- Distractions – You know little dogs, they get distracted by lots of things; bugs, small animals, and even humans. Be aware that your dog might stop suddenly or dart in a different direction in order to check all these things out. Let them! They are out to have some fun too! Let them do their dog thing for a bit and then continue on the run. Oh, and realize they might need to stop to potty while out for a run!
- Give Them a Chance to Cool Down – You need a cool down after a run so will your dog. Let them catch their breath and give them some water. Don’t feed them right away either. You wouldn’t eat a full meal immediately after a run, it would upset your stomach. You might feel like you should reward your dog with treats after a run but hold off on those until they’ve had a chance to rest.
Running with a dog can be great exercise for both of you. If you take the steps to make sure your dog is ready for a run, he can enjoy it as much as you. Small dogs are no exception to this. They will see you reaching for the leash and they will get excited because they know it’s almost time for a run. If you take the right precautions and check with a vet first, there is no reason smalls dogs can’t go on a run with you. Just make sure they are in good health and are able to keep up with you. Don’t let their small size keep you from enjoying their company while running.