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There are endless gorgeous running trails in the D.C. area that are perfect for you and your pup. It takes more than just leashing up and heading out to ensure a safe run. Here’s how to make it a happy tail-wagging time for your and your best bud. (Photo: Robert Stoetzel of Dog & Co.)

Dog-friendly fitness: Tips for running with your four-legged friend

If you’re a runner with an energetic pup, it’s a no-brainer to invite your furry friend along as you log your miles. It’s a win-win; you and your dog get fresh air and exercise while spending time together. You’ll burn calories and your dog will be exhausted and calm for the rest of the day (at least that’s the hope!).

There are endless gorgeous running trails in the D.C. area that are perfect for you and your pup. It takes more than just leashing up and heading out to ensure a safe run. Here’s how to make it a happy tail-wagging time for your and your best bud.

Start Small

Just because your dog seems to have boundless energy, it doesn’t mean your dog will be able to log too many miles at one time. Start with a short jog and keep a constant check on how your dog is doing. Just like you had to build up your mileage, your pup has to do the same.

Stay Hydrated

You and your pup should both keep hydration in mind. Especially on hot and humid days, make sure to take ample breaks for water. When stopping for water, make sure they are frequent and don’t let your dog guzzle the water too quickly. Head for the shade to give your furry friend a few minutes to cool down and ensure they have the energy and are properly hydrated to continue.

Get the Right Gear

Invest in the right harness and leash for your pup. It may take a few tries to get it just right. Check that the harness is not rubbing too much against your dog’s skin and look for a hands-free leash (like the Found My Animal Rope Leash) to make your run safer. If you’re holding a leash and trip, it could be a disaster for you, but with your hands-free, you’ll more easily be able to catch yourself. For hydration breaks, wear a water belt and attach a light fabric travel water bowl (like the Wildebeest Funston To-Go Bowl).

Check the Weather

A good tip for both human and hound runners; if it’s too hot, especially if there is a heat advisory, it may not be the right day to run with your dog. Same goes for potential thunderstorms. Thunder can give your dog a big spook, causing them to bolt. If the weather seems iffy, it’s best to wait for a calmer and more predictable day.

Survey Running Surfaces

Remember that you’re wearing shoes, but your dog’s paws are open to the elements. If it’s been snowy, salt on the sidewalks can be harmful to paws so you may need to equip your dog with booties before heading out. Be aware of any broken glass, rocks or sticks that may litter the way. Always check your dog’s paws post-run.

Keep a Close Watch

You may not know all of your dog's quirks prior to a run, so especially on the first few, keep a close eye on your dog’s reactions. Some dogs may lunge after other runners or go after other dogs or squirrels along the trail. For your own well-being as well as your dogs, stay tuned into your dog's movements. If you typically run with music, when with your pup, ditch the headphones to be more aware of your surroundings.

Before you begin running with your four-legged friend, check with your vet to ensure your dog is healthy and ready. Some breeds are not fit for running. Dogs shouldn’t run too young as it can injure their joints and bones.

Once you know your dog is healthy and ready for the trails, enjoy the fresh air of the D.C. area as you and your dog get fit this fall!

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