We’re so excited for our 13th annual Defend Your Friend 5K, taking place on October 12 at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park at 9 a.m.! (Register here!)
This fun run and walk is open to everyone, including well-behaved and leashed pups who want to run alongside their humans. In anticipation of this exciting event, we asked our sponsor, VCA Animal Hospitals, to offer some tips on making sure dogs are ready to safely participate in the event!
Here are some safety tips from Dr. Leigh Fenderbosch at the VCA Westerville location:
Get Medical Clearance
First things first: Before you embark on any running program with your pooch, speak with your veterinarian to make sure your pet is medically sound for running. Puppies should not have any “forced exercise,” (no jogging/running) until their growth plates are closed, which is usually around 12 months for most breeds. And some breeds, like bulldogs and pugs, shouldn’t run at all because they are more predisposed to overheating.
Start with Training
Just as a person would start his training program slowly, start slow with your pup. Begin with quarter to half-mile increments over several weeks or months. This will make it much easier to handle for you and your pup than jumping to a 5K distance with no prior training.
Keep Them Leashed
Even the most well trained dogs can be unpredictable. Keep your dog safe from traffic and distractions (squirrels!) by keeping him on a leash while you run together.
Watch the Weather
Hot weather and running with dogs can be a dangerous combination, so it’s important to be able to monitor for signs of overheating since dogs cannot sweat. Signs of overheating include: excessive panting, inability to keep up/dragging behind on leash, loss of balance/incoordination, disorientation.
Frequent water breaks are ideal (at least every 30 minutes) in a cool, shady area. Planning a route that includes rivers/lakes so your pup can submerge is a great alternative!
A reasonable rule of thumb is that if it’s more than 80 degrees, your dog stays home.
Running or jogging with your BFF is a great way for both of you to stay in shape and spend quality time together. Keep the tips above in mind and you’ll both be (safely) hitting the running path soon!