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Jogging With Dogs

June 2, 2011

Photo by MiiiSH

Dogs love to run, there’s no doubt about it. But there’s a difference between “running” around freely while playing, and being forced to accompany their owner on a daily jog. I see so many people jogging with their dogs, and I feel for them (the dogs). Actually, I feel for the people too, since a lot of them simply haven’t come across paleo/primal and the notion of “chronic cardio” – which, if I haven’t made it obvious yet, I’m not a big fan of. But while people can make their own choices, dogs are dependent on their owners.

Other than “chronic cardio”, here are a few problems that people might overlook when making Fido their new jogging buddy:

Breed

Some of the dogs I see jogging are so small, they have trouble keeping up when walking, much less running (they’re called purse dogs for a reason!) Dogs have been bred for different purposes. Some that have been bred for “showing” can have structural issues that make them more prone to injuries. Also, in some breeds orthopedic and joint problems are common. Sporting and working breeds are generally more suitable for running.

Conditioning

Just because some dogs seem to have boundless energy doesn’t mean they’re fit. A dog’s endurance should be slowly ramped up, just like a human’s. Dogs will often go to great lengths to please their owners – they are capable of literally running themselves to death to keep up.

Pad Wear

People usually work their way up to pounding pavement barefoot. If Fido lounges at home all day, why would his soft pads be ready for rough, hard concrete, especially when the pavement’s hot? Pad wear is one of the most common dog injuries.

Overheating/Dehydrating

Dogs aren’t as efficient at cooling off and are at a greater risk of overheating and dehydrating. Signs of overheating, like excessive panting and increased salivation are often difficult to spot until it’s too late. Also, a dog’s pads are part of his perspiration system, so if the ground’s hot, he’ll overheat that much faster.

Age

Yes, puppies seem to bounce off the walls. But working a dog too hard before his bones have fully developed (typically at age 18-24 months) can lead to long-term injuries.

Dogs need exercise, just like we do, but why not consider taking your dogs to an off-leash park  or trail and let them be dogs, running around as they please. Play some fetch, run around with them – you’ll both get a good, fun work-out!

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