"I Sweat Through My Paws..."

Run­ning with a dog can be one of the most re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. Trail run­ner Sue Ul­lyett has been do­ing it for years…

Runner's World South Africa - - Front Page -

we know that; but it’s also good for our four-legged friends.

The best way to stay mo­ti­vated is to have some­one re­li­able to run with – so why not your dog? They’re always happy to see you, they get re­ally, re­ally ex­cited to head out the door, and they won’t let you down like a train­ing part­ner might on a cold win­ter’s morn­ing.

You get your fix, and your pooch gets some ex­er­cise at the same time.

No, not all dogs are built for run­ning; but most healthy dogs love it, even if it’s only for a cou­ple of kilo­me­tres. Still, whether you’re a parkrun new­bie or a com­mit­ted marathoner, there are a few things you need to think about first.

1. Make sure your dog’s up for it

You can’t go from the couch to a half marathon in one ses­sion, so don’t ex­pect your dog to. They need to be eased into it.

Start off short and slow – per­haps around the block, or to your near­est park – and grad­u­ally build up to longer runs once they get fit­ter. The av­er­age dog can run be­tween three and 10km, so keep that in mind when plan­ning your routes.

You may also want to check with your vet first, just to be cer­tain. Dogs such as bull­dogs, pugs and mostKar dash ian­hand­bag breeds are bet­ter off go­ing for an easy walk rather than a run. And be care­ful with older dogs, as they can de­velop injuries and joint pain just like we do.

On the other hand, shep­herds, ter­ri­ers and retriev­ers love to run, and some breeds (such as vizs­las and the Africa­nis) can go for days. Use com­mon sense: if you’re head­ing out for four hours on the moun­tain, don’t take your sausage dog!

2. Choose dog-friendly routes

I always head for the for­est or park, and min­imise time on the road – for both of us. Run­ning on the road can hurt your dog’s paws, mak­ing them raw and sore.

On a warm sum­mer’s day, too, it helps to stay off the road and stick to grass and dirt paths. Dogs over­heat quickly, and will of­ten keep go­ing even if they’re hot or ex­hausted. They also only sweat through their paws, and cool down through their tongues.

Plus, they’re run­ning in a fur coat – so don’t take them with you on a hot day. Always run with wa­ter, or make sure there’s lots around for them to drink (or plunge into, as is the case with my Roxie).

3. Pack runs and leashes

Make sure your dog is well so­cialised and used to other dogs and peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly if you’re run­ning in a group or an or­gan­ised event. Check your dog can walk prop­erly on a loose leash be­fore you take it run­ning with you. Make sure the leash is com­fort­able, and doesn’t cause chafe – a chain leash is not a good idea.

I’ve trained Roxie to run on-lead, and it works well, apart from when she’s tired or when she spots a squir­rel – then I ei­ther run with my arm way be­hind me, or have it al­most dis­lo­cated from its socket.

It’s way more fun for both par­ties if you can take them to a place where they can run freely. But dogs are eas­ily dis­tracted by other dogs, squir­rels, even smells; so make sure they will come back to you when you call or whis­tle.

4. Pick up af­ter your dog

When you gotta go, you gotta go – and it’s the same for your pooch. Always have a few small plas­tic bags tied onto the leash, and pick up af­ter your dog. There’s noth­ing worse than step­ping in it, so be mind­ful of oth­ers around you! Re­mem­ber, the whole rea­son you’re do­ing this is to have fun – and to get fit, but try and learn a few things from your dog too. The joy, when they see you putting on your shoes – have that same en­thu­si­asm for your train­ing ses­sion. Roxie goes men­tal, and I can’t help but take some of that energy on board!

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