When to stop running your dog

It may seem like an odd thing to write a blog about because I am always encouraging people to get out and about with their dogs, but there are times when you should consider if running is the best thing for your dog. There are now a lot more people involved in the dog sports than there were 10 years ago and although I’m delighted in the enthusiasm, there are situations in which you shouldn’t be running your dog.

I’ve bullet pointed the main reasons why I would rest my dogs below and although this list isn’t exhaustive it gives an indication of what to look for in your dog before running.

1. Your dog is still young – either mentally or physically. Rushing into running your dog in harness can have a detrimental effect on how they run later on in life. Keep any activity short and sweet when they are young and allow them to mentally digest positive experiences so you can increase distance and intensity later on.

Let young dogs be puppies for as long as possible and son't get them working too hard too soon.

Let young dogs be puppies for as long as possible and don’t get them working too hard too soon.

2. Your dog is getting old – activity is great but your dog may not want to be joining you for a full 10 miles anymore or may not be interested in faster runs. If your dog is still keen to run, perhaps shorten the distances you are covering with them, or slow your speed so your dog is still enjoying the run without having to work so hard to keep in front or keep up. Running is great for keeping dogs mobile but don’t over do the work, as most dogs will try to keep up with you even if they are struggling.

Older dogs may well still want to run but they will need to monitored - Photo courtesy of Rachel Lukoi Blakemore

Older dogs may well still want to run but they will need to monitored – Photo courtesy of Rachel Lukoi Blakemore

3. The weather isn’t appropriate – this could be either the temperatures are too high (most common) or too low with icy trails you and your dog could slip on. Use a mobile app to carefully monitor temperatures and humidity and set yourself and your dogs limits for both hot and cold weather so you are not making your dog uncomfortable in any way.

Try an alternative to running if the weather isn't appropriate - Photo courtesy of Will Prout

Try an alternative to running if the weather isn’t appropriate – Photo courtesy of Will Prout

4. Your dog isn’t having fun – if you have been doing a lot of training, your dog may be beginning to switch off, particularly if you’ve been running any longer distances. Cut out one or two runs a week or make them shorter to keep the enthusiasm your dog has for running. Try switching routes or trying new places too, the key to these sports is to maintain both yours, and your dogs passion for them. If you’re not enjoying it, take a break.

Your dog should always be enjoying what activity you are taking part in - Photo courtesy of Karen Burd

Your dog should always be enjoying what activity you are taking part in – Photo courtesy of Karen Burd

5. Your dog is showing signs of strains and sprains – Stiffness after running could be an indicator of a muscular problem. You personally might just ‘run it off’ but it’s not fair to expect your dog to. I would advise getting any suspected injury checked out by the vet, but even if you just see a difference in your dogs’ movement, I would recommend taking your dog to a professional such as a Canine Massage Guild approved therapist for some treatment and giving your dog a rest in the meantime.

Canine massage is a great way to keep your dog in tip top condition but rest is the most important thing to allow muscles to recover

Canine massage is a great way to keep your dog in tip top condition but rest is the most important thing to allow muscles to recover

 

6. You’ve been doing a lot of training recently – Dogs need rest time too and although your dog might be raring to go every time you pick up the harness, you must be the one to enforce a break in training. Other activities such as swimming, scent work and general games around the house and garden can provide just as much stimulation as a run. Make sure you work this into your dogs’ week, to allow the body to recover, we all need some ‘down time’.

Rest is a very important part of recovery for any dog regularly working hard in harness

Rest is a very important part of recovery

If you consider all of the above and you’re sure none of them apply, then keep doing what you’re doing, after all ‘active dogs are happy dogs’ Happy Trails from the K9 Trail Time Team , don’t forget to visit us at http://www.k9trailtime.com for all your equipment needs! 🙂

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