“Hey Doc, when can I run with my puppy?”
Veterinarians get this question a lot.
The answer: It depends.
While vets are huge fans of regular exercise for dogs’ emotional and physical health, we recommend holding off running with a dog until its musculoskeletal system is fully mature.
And, some breeds of dogs just aren’t born athletes, like Pugs, Frenchies, and Boston terriers. These smooshy-faced breeds should probably never be running partners.
Does that mean a puppy shouldn’t run at all?
Of course not. All puppies are going to run – around the house, around the yard, and around the park (only after completing their puppy vaccine series, please). But there’s a difference between short bursts of speed around the yard vs. miles of pounding the pavement or trail.
Dogs mature at different ages
Before you grab your leash and running shoes, you’ll need to make sure your dog is old enough to handle the physical strain of running.
Running longer distances too early and without appropriate training puts a great deal of stress on immature joints and ligaments, making your dog more susceptible to arthritis later in life.
The musculoskeletal systems of various dog breeds and sizes mature at different rates.
Large and giant breeds, like retrievers and Great Danes, aren’t fully mature until they are 18-24 months old.
Smaller, mixed-breed dogs (30-40 pounds) mature faster, at 14-16 months.
8 tips to develop a jogging routine with your dog
1. Before your puppy reaches running age, take them for short walks, gradually increasing the distance and pace. This will help your pup develop the stamina needed for a longer run.
2. As we mentioned earlier in this article, your puppy should have all their vaccinations before they start running. This will help protect them from illnesses they may come into contact with while on the trail or road.
3. Before starting your running routine, you should take your pup to the vet and have them checked out. It’s important that your dog be in good physical condition before starting to run distances.
4. Check the weather before heading out for a run. If it’s too hot or too cold, you may want to postpone your run. You should also be aware of air quality, as dogs can be sensitive to air pollution.
5. Once your pup is old enough to run, start with short, slow running trips. Begin with distances of no more than a quarter of a mile, and pay close attention to your pup’s breathing and energy levels. If your dog seems to be panting more than usual or tiring, it’s time to slow down or stop for a bit.
6. Choose the right route; where you jog with your dog is just as important as how far you go. Choose a route that’s relatively flat and away from busy roads. This will make the experience more enjoyable and safer for both of you.
7. Bring plenty of water and a few snacks for both you and your pup. Dogs can become dehydrated from running, so offer them water regularly.
8. Bring poop bags, a leash, and any other items you may need.
With the right precautions, running with your pup can be a fun way to stay active, get fit, and enjoy quality time with your furry friend.