How to Introduce Your Dog to Running

There's nothing quite like running with your furry best friend. Your dog provides steadfast protection and loyal companionship. However, unlike your human running partner who can easily keep up the pace, canine friends deserve special attention, especially when they're young. Erica Marshall, experienced trainer and owner of Wicked Good Dog Training, gives sound advice on starting your puppy off on the right foot ? err paw.

At what age can I safely begin running with my puppy?

Always confer with your veterinarian, as breed/mix can play a part in determining the best age to start a running regimen. Generally, you shouldn't start running with your puppy before six months of age; any earlier and you can risk affecting his growing joints and muscles. Some large and giant breeds may not be ready until later.

Which breeds are best for running? Are there any breeds that should not run?

There are typical breeds that are known to be good running partners such as the Labrador, Golden Retriever and Siberian Husky. Other good breeds include Vizsla, German Shepherd and Dalmatian. Basically any dog with abundant energy and stamina can make a good running partner.

Dogs that should remain in your furry cheering section are Brachycephalic, or short-nosed dogs: Pug, English Bulldog, Boston Terrier, Pekingese, Shih Tzu and the like. These breeds are all too anatomically compromised to be able to withstand long distance and even short-distance running. They overheat even faster than other dogs and can't take in enough oxygen to accommodate strenuous exercise.

More: What Are the Best Dogs for Running?

How do I start running with my pup?

Very slowly! In fact the first thing you should work on is polite walking leash manners. Get your puppy comfortable walking next to you, and as he progresses in efficiency, increase your speed. Practice in low-distraction areas first like your kitchen or living room and then as he progresses, take the practice sessions outside until he can speed walk/slow jog politely up and down your driveway and then in front of your house then down the block, etc.

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