What better way to get in the spirit of exercising than by taking your dog out for a run? Pups can make awesome training partners. Still, it’s important to be well-prepared for any workout with your furry friend to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for both of you. These are five ways to prepare for a run to keep your canine healthy every step of the way.

Know Your Dog

Running with your canine might be motivation to start exercising, but they might not be as suited for the job as you think. Certain breeds, such as short-snouted dogs, aren’t built to run long distances, and their health can suffer if they try. Even if you’ve got a good breed for exercise, it’s best to pop into your vet’s office first and check that they are in peak health before embarking on any runs.

Start Off Small

Just as humans need time to adapt to increased levels of exercise, dogs do as well. Pushing them too hard from the start can lead to heat stroke, muscle strain, dehydration, fractures, and more. The pads of their paws are also sensitive and must be calloused across a number of runs to keep their feet safe. Starting with shorter distances/lower speeds and slowly increasing distance/speed can ensure your pet’s body can regulate changes in activity and build up endurance.

Find The Right Leash

If your intention is to get exercise along with exercising your dog, it’s best to get a leash to keep them in pace with you. A leash that is no more than six feet long is best to ensure you and your partner are side-by-side and that they’re in reach if you need to stop or slow down. Avoid retractable or flimsy leashes, as they can get tangled and impede your connection with your pup.

Focus On Hydration

Drink, drink, then drink again! Before and after any run, it’s essential to encourage your canine to drink plenty of water. If you’re going long distances, bring a bottle and collapsible bowl along to take hydration breaks along the way. If your dog doesn’t get enough water in advance, they can quickly become dehydrated and struggle to keep up with you on your course. With all that fur, can you blame them for needing some extra hydration?

Watch For Nonverbal Cues

Dogs can’t exactly tell you when they’re getting exhausted, but their behaviors are a good sign. If their eyes are glazed over, they’re drooling excessively, they’re licking at their paws, or they’re winding down their speed, it’s a good time to stop and check in with them. Overworking them is dangerous and it’s essential to pay attention to their body language throughout the run to prevent injury, dehydration, or exhaustion.