CONSIDER YOUR DOGS BREED,
HEALTH & BUILD
In order to have your dog as your exercise buddy, step one is a trip to the vet and if running is new to you too, a doctor’s checkup for you is also recommended. Exercise for human and hound can be beneficial in many ways. The benefits include a stronger heart, lower blood pressure, more energy, denser bones, a lower risk of depression and a beautiful bond between you and your dog.
Older dogs may have health problems which may not make them suitable running partners, while large breeds can be prone to hip dysplasia (an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can lead to arthritis). Your vet can evaluate your dog for any heart, lung, or other health problems. It’s also important to check for signs of arthritis or musculoskeletal disease. A dog with inflamed joints or ligaments may require a low-impact exercise plan. It is important to ensure your dog has a clean bill of health before you start them out as a running buddy as much as it is important to factor in their age, breed, shape, size, running surface, weather and overall fitness level.
Dogs with short legs may not be able to keep up with the pace you'd like to maintain and if your furbaby is a Chihuahua, Bulldog, Pug, or other short-nosed, flat-faced breed (also known as brachycephalic), running may simply require too much exertion. Their squished faces are cute but some tend to have narrowed nostrils and partially obstructed airways (unless surgically corrected), which may make breathing difficult when they work too hard.
Because each and every wonderful dog is different irrespective of their breed, the responsibility ultimately falls on us as their owners because you know them best and are aware of their capabilities and limitations.
"You really should wait until a young dog's growth plates [areas of cartilage near the ends of bones] have started to close, and that time frame really varies by breed and size of the dog. A much smaller dog like a Jack Russell Terrier could probably start going on regular runs earlier than a larger dog, like a Great Dane, whose growth plates will take longer to seal up."
- Sharon Wirant, an animal behaviorist with the ASPCA