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It’s no secret that dogs LOVE running. From fetching to chasing rabbits in the background, it seems they could run for days and never stop. Running with your pooch can be a fun and exciting experience for both of you. But before you hit the ground running, Dog Gone Amazing has some pre-running must-knows in order to make the running time you share with Sparky safe, fun and free from harm.

Start at the Vet

Prior to exercise of any kind, a quick checkup at the vet’s office is recommended. Only healthy dogs should be considered for running partners, and certain diseases may prove running to be more detrimental for your pup than it is beneficial. Just as humans should consult a doctor before signing that 12-month contract to the gym, dogs should see a professional too.

In addition to ensuring your dog is healthy and up-to-date on his/her vaccines, talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s breed. Short-nosed dogs, such as pugs, and dogs commonly susceptible to joint problems, such as Great Danes, are typically not good running partners. Talk to your professional or visit www.dogbreedinfo.com to find out more about the restrictions your dog’s breed might play when you’re considering taking him or her out on the trail.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

… at first, anyways. While you may be a natural-born gold champion, your dog might not be. Begin training your dog with running exercises once they are showing a bit of maturity … after about 8-12 months for most breeds. Start with short-distance runs, perhaps through a park. Working your way toward longer distances over time will help avoid injury while slowly strengthening the sensitive pads of your dog’s feet. Remember, you wear shoes; he/she likely doesn’t.

Pay Attention

Watch where you’re going; watch your dog. Keeping your eyes peeled for upcoming obstacles in the path and potential threats is vital to ensuring safety for both you and your furry best friend.

Although your dog may bark when something has gone truly wrong, he/she probably won’t when they’re feeling tired, overheated or dehydrated. Therefore, watch your dog for signs that they’re not having fun anymore. Glazed eyes, extreme panting and foaming at the mouth are all signs that you need to take a break and likely call it a day. Always have plenty of fresh water for you and your dog and stay attentive to signs that your dog needs to rest.

Other common rules apply to properly running with your dog. These include picking up after them (always carry extra plastic bags) and inspecting their paws before and after going out for a run to check for scrapes and cuts. Exercising with your dog has a plethora of benefits, from increased motivation to quality bonding time for the two of you; but remember, it’s your responsibility to keep their best interest at heart when taking them along for the ride (or run). Stay safe, have fun and enjoy the benefit of having a furry best friend as your favorite running buddy.