In honor of National Running Day this week, let’s consider the joys of running with a canine companion. Why run with your dog? Dogs love it, they provide inspiration and motivation for you, running together offers a chance to bond with each other and it can be healthy for your dog. With a few simple precautions, running with your dog can become a favorite pastime for both of you.
- 10. See the dog doc. Just like you, your dog shouldn’t embark on any new exercise regime without a checkup first. Make sure his heart, lungs, joints are in tip-top shape and have your vet recommend a good routine for your dog to begin with, i.e., an appropriate time and distance for the beginning runner. Also, get updated on any necessary shots.
- 9. Be consistent. Run every day. Start short, then build up his (and your) stamina over weeks or months. Frequent, short runs are better for most dogs (and you!) than weekend warrior marathons followed by a week off.
- 8. Understand your dog. What kind of runner is he? Most dogs are sprinters, designed for short bursts rather than long distances. Some shorter-nosed breeds like pugs or bulldogs have respiratory issues which make it hard for them to run. Older dogs with arthritis or joint problems will need frequent breaks and may need to run slower or less far than they did when they were youngsters. Pay attention to your dog while you run and read his body language because he can’t speak up to tell you when it hurts. If he shows any signs of limping or discomfort, stop immediately.
- 7. Leash up! For his safety, always keep your dog on leash while running. He’s already in motion so it doesn’t take much to prompt him into the street to chase an enticing squirrel. Leash laws in Boulder require all dogs to be on leashes unless confined to their guardian’s property (in Boulder we never refer to the human as an “owner,” always a “guardian”).
- Boulder has 144 miles of Open Space & Mountain Parks trails, 90 percent of which are open to dogs and many of those are “voice and sight control” areas where an Open Space and Mountain Parks voice and sight tag allows you to run off leash on trails/parks that participate in the program. Even if you’re running in a V&SC area, it’s a good idea to stick with the leash — you’ll be able to prevent your dog from tangling with a rabid skunk. For a list of Boulder’s voice and sight trails, see this FIDOS page. FIDOS (Friends Interested in Dogs + Open Space) is an organization that promotes responsible dog guardianship while protecting natural resources of our public lands.
- 6. Get legal. Boulder law requires that your dog have a city license and must wear his license tag at all times if he’s over four months old and lives in city limits. For more info on City of Boulder animal laws click here.
- 5. Safety first. If you’re running on Open Space trails, take all the normal precautions such as having your dog wear bear bells and/or carrying a can of pepper spray. Take your cell phone with you even though coverage on the more remote mountain trails may be spotty.