The first step is walking with your dog. Will Fido heel at your side as you stroll leisurely down the street? If not, don’t try jogging with her. Speeding your walk to a run, she’ll only pull harder. You’re more likely to lose your balance and take a tumble. Also, the pressure of her pulling can create a choking effect on her throat and damage the trachea. Never go running with a dog who’s pulling you.
Assuming your dog does know how to walk at your side, start by speed-walking for about 30 seconds, then slow it down, and after a minute or so speed it up again. Randomly go fast and then slow and then fast and then faster and then slow. The idea is to teach your dog to follow your pace.
If you routinely let your dog sniff at the grass whenever she wants to on walks, you’ll have to readjust that habit, too. Let her sniff and also to do her business before you begin your run.
One way for your dogs to differentiate a walk from going for a run is to use a special leash for jogging. Your dog will see the different leash and soon understand that the special leash is meant for serious running – no stopping to smell the flowers. Or worse. Consider what happened to my friend Mike when the poor guy joined me and my dogs, Lucy and Chaser, for a run.
We were just beginning for the season. What Mike didn’t realize is that my dogs are trained to stop and sit at street corners. A handy thing for dogs in big cities to do, but not so good while running. Mike was going at a pretty good clip when Lucy stopped and sat. Mike kept going, not knowing Lucy had stopped, and sprung back like a slingshot.
Just as you must build endurance, so must your dog. When I run with someone, I may complain, "Hey, getting tired here. Slow up!" Some dogs will also tell you when enough is enough, but some won’t.
Never go for runs of any considerable distance with puppies who are still growing. If you have any doubts, ask your veterinarian.
Dogs don’t sweat (except minimally on their paw pads), so they have more difficulty than people do keeping cool. When there’s blistering heat and jungle humidity, just don’t do it. Dogs do get heat stroke, and they can die. Instead, go for your jog early in the morning or after the sun sets. And always bring water for yourself and for the dog.
Also, consider your dog’s breed. Face it, some dogs just aren’t meant for running far. To a toy dog with diminutive legs, a run down the block is like running several miles for a Labrador Retriever. Greyhounds and Whippets love to run, but they’re actually not built for long distances. Also, large lumbering breeds, Newfoundlands, or Burnese Mountain Dogs, for example, can’t go very far without suffering consequences to their joints. Breeds with pushed-in noses (brachycephalic dogs), ranging from the generally athletic Boxer to the not as athletic English Bulldog, will have serious difficulty breathing if you attempt too great a distance.
These breeds are quite capable of running longer distances regularly: Rhodesian Ridgeback, Basenji, Brittany, English and Welsh Springer Spaniels, Vizsla, Weimaraner, Pointer breeds, Airedale, Retriever breeds, Setter breeds, Foxhound breeds, and when it isn’t too warm, the Samoyed, Malamute, and Alaskan Husky (who wear especially heavy coats).
Keep in mind, no dog is meant to run a marathon. Some might argue people aren’t, either.