Get Started Trail Running With Your Dog

Get Started Trail Running With Your Dog

Have you been thinking about trail running with your dog, but didn't know where to start? There's a lot of information out there and it can be confusing. Look no more! We have all the tips you'll need to take your best friend out on the trail.

Trail running with your dog can be an amazing experience. But you definitely need to be prepared for it. It's not a simple matter of having your dog by your side as you run the trail. The dog needs to be introduced to trail running. You have to think about your dog's needs, including their level of fitness, whether they enjoy trail running and what kind of emergencies might come up along the way.

Girl trail running with dog

Start Out Slow

Just like any new thing you introduce to your dog, the process of introducing it to trail running must be a slow one. Think about it. You don't know whether your dog will enjoy trail running. And if they don't want to run, then don't force them to! It should be a fun activity not just for you, but also for your dog. So how do you find out? One easy way to discover whether your dog is a trail runner is to take them on small runs and assess how they like it. If the dog is happy to run, then introduce them to longer runs and different terrains. You'll figure out soon enough what your dog enjoys.

Learn About Your Dog's Breed

Not all dog breeds make good runners. For some it can be dangerous to go on long, enduring runs. For example, Bull Mastiffs and Pugs aren't built for heavy exercise. These breeds have abnormalities in their nose and throat that make breathing difficult for them. It is important that you find out what your dog is capable of doing, before you start taking it out on runs with you. Generally speaking, larger dogs are more suited to running. We suggest sporting breeds like Retrievers, Pointers and spaniels, or hunting breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds as excellent trail running partners. Your dog should be fast and agile, and make sure you check with your vet whether your dog is in good enough shape to start running.

woman trail running with dog

The Right Gear

Having the right gear is essential to make trail running enjoyable for both of you. Attaching a leash to your dog's collar and going out for a run is an absolute no-no. Collared leashes can have a strangling effect when you're trying to keep your dog in line. Even if your dog is not normally a puller, you may need to suddenly pull on your dog to deter them from harmful objects.  This can cause damage to your dog’s trachea and respiratory system. A harness is a much safer option. A harness with a hand held leash allows your dog to run without obstruction but will also allow you to have control over where the dog goes.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Just as you carry water for yourself when you go long distance running, ensure that you also carry water for your dog. The dog needs to hydrate through the run, and fresh water carried by you is the best source. You're not always going to be running by streams and other natural sources of water. As your dog gets more comfortable with trail running, they could even wear a light pack carrying their own water. The weight of the pack should not exceed more than 20% of the dog's weight.

girl with dog on hike

Protect The Paws

Plenty of dogs are okay to run with bare paws. But trail running on difficult terrain can be hard on dogs whose only experience has been living in the city or going to parks. Investing in a good set of booties can protect your dog's paws. And remember, your dog needs to break in that new footwear.

Finally, before you get out and hit the trail, find out whether the trail you want to take your dog to allows them to be there. Most National Parks will not allow dogs, even those who are leashed. When you do head out, carry bags to pick up the dog's waste. Be courteous of other runners and hikers on the trail. Carrying a small first aid kit for your dog is also recommended. After all, you both want to come back home happy and tired, not hurt.

So there you have it. These are the essentials you need to know before trail running with your dog. Follow our tips, and you'll soon have the perfect running partner!

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