Dogs can make ideal running and cycling buddies. They’re naturally energetic (well, usually)...
...and they view every day as a preposterously exciting adventure. There’s nothing as encouraging when you’re starting to flag on a long ride or run as the sight of a goofy ball of enthusiasm lolloping by your side.
But woah there! Before you hit the tarmac with your best bud in tow, there are some important points to ‘bone up’ on first if you're thinking about exercising with your dog.
Do make sure your dog is up to it
"Just like people, younger, older and overweight dogs may not be suited to all types of exercise," says Lynn Barber, head of canine behaviour and training at Dogs Trust. “If you’re unsure, a visit to the vets before embarking on any new activity is a good idea."
Don’t expect them to behave
Take your dog's temperament into account. So, if they're about as obedient as this...
...it’s probably not a good idea to run or cycle with them off the lead until you’ve done some obedience training first.
Do put them on a training plan
[related_articles]Just like you wouldn’t run a marathon before you’d mastered a mile, you can’t expect your dog to leap into action like Pawla Ruffcliffe (sorry). Ease them into an exercise routine by starting with moderate walks, runs or cycles, before working your way up to more epic treks.
Don’t let them overdo it
Make sure you can spot the signs of overheating in your pooch, particularly if you’re planning on racking up some serious miles. Luckily, dogs are pretty good at sitting down and whining when they’ve had enough.
However, if your pal starts panting vigorously, vomiting or has white sticky saliva around their mouth, get them into the shade, give them some water and, if they don’t improve, call the vet.
Do make sure you’ve got the right gear
Don’t worry about losing your grip on the lead as Rocky chases a rabbit or sniffs another dog’s arse: there are all manner of purpose-built belts that allow him to jog alongside you while leaving your hands free to swig from a water bottle, wipe sweat from your brow or give a thumbs-ups to a passing pal.
If you’re cycling, then you may appreciate a solid lead allowing you to keep a safe distance between your dog and your bike. Inner Wolf has all manner of products designed for exercising alongside a pooch.
For winter and evening workouts, flashing leads and collars will make your dog look like he’s on his way to a rave. They’ll also allow other people to see him in low light. Double win.
Do make sure they've got enough to drink
Your dog will build up a mighty thirst when running alongside you, so you’ll need to bring along some H2O for them to swig. To prevent bloating and discomfort, leave it at least two hours after a big meal before taking them out.
Do have fun
“Exercising with your dog can be a great social experience. It’s a fantastic way to meet other dog-lovers, and it has huge benefits for your dog’s socialisation," says Dogs Trust’s Lynn Barber. “Almost all exercise is beneficial for you and your dog, but anything that could be deemed physically or mentally harmful should be avoided."
If the social side appeals and you want to exercise with other dogs and their owners, give Canicross a whirl. It’s cross-country running, with the added excitement of having your pooch tethered to you. They run regular events up and down the country – find the nearest one to you on their website.
P.S. Have a bonus dog Gif, just cos they're cute
No dogs were harmed in the making of the above Gifs, but please don't drag your dog around/put it on a treadmill/allow to it to run a bar and serve beer to other dogs. A dog is for life, not just for amusement!