If you haven’t found the perfect running buddy yet, maybe it is because you haven’t been looking in the right place—or for the right species. Your dog may be the best running buddy you haven’t run with yet.
There are a few things to consider when starting to run with man’s best friend, many of which are similar for new human runners. The Total Dog Manual: Meet, Train and Care for Your New Best Friend (Owen Weldon, October 2015), stresses the importance of starting your dog off slowly.
“Just like you, your dog needs to build up his endurance and strength over time to prevent injury and burnout,” shares the editors. “Start out slowly and watch him for signs of fatigue and overheating.” Also, starting off on grass and trails and checking your dog’s paws for abrasions and cuts can help as they get used to longer distances.
A great tool to consider is using an activity tracker—similar to a Fitbit or Garmin that you may have—to keep tabs on your dog’s health. There are a number of models out there, but we tried out two units to see what the buzz is about.
- FitBark: The FitBark is a small unit that connects directly to your dog’s collar. When paired with an app on your phone, you have tabs on your dog’s activity—broken down by play, active and rest time—with the option to view it broken down by the hour. Coming soon, they will include the ability to compare your dog’s activity with similar breeds. If your dog isn’t meeting their goals, FitBark will give you a suggestion on how to help your dog, including how long you can take them out for a run or slow walk to help increase the numbers. You can also add your own activity monitors and store important medical information for your dog, should something happen while you’re out on the roads.
- Tractive MOTION: Though the unit itself is a bit more bulky than the FitBark, the app provides even more details to help you monitor your dog. This includes a counter of how much sun and light your dog got and even the ambient temperature. Both of those can come into play, especially during summer, when dogs are even more prone to heatstroke. The activity is measured as Lazy, Active and Dynamic time and can give a deep insight into when the best times are to get your dog moving.