When is it safe for your young dog to start running with you? For most dogs turning a year old is the magic number. It really makes my mom sad when we see people out jogging with young puppies because we know about the damage that can happen with pups who run too early in life.
A young dog has so much energy!
It’s true. Young dogs are full of energy, but they also expend a lot of energy growing and learning. Small humans also have a lot of energy, but they don’t go out jogging with their parents unless they are riding in a stroller! There are many ways to keep your puppy’s energy in check without taking them for runs or long walks. Play with toys, attend puppy playgroups, mental stimulation games, and classes specifically for puppies are the safest ways to burn off some of that boundless energy.
Why are growth plates so important?
Age four to eight months is a critical time in puppy growth, because of their growth plates. Growth plates are are easily injured and have the potential to fracture because they are the last portion of the bone to harden. Injuries to the puppy’s legs during this time may cause permanent damage and the potential for deformity. Growth plates are soft areas of developing cartilage tissue found by the ends of a puppy’s long bones. When a puppy is born, the growth plates are mainly made of cartilage, but as a puppy grows and matures, the cartilage calcifies and turns into denser bone. As the growth plates close, they turn into hard, solid bone.
When can a young dog start running?
It is not easy to wait to run with a young energetic puppy, but it is the responsible thing to do. The general rule of thumb is to wait until a puppy turns one. Some breeds have growth plates that close sooner, some later, so please check with your veterinarian before running with your young dog. My sisters and I all waited until we were about a year old to start our running careers. Madison just started her running career with Mom and Bailie a week after turning one.
Remember to start slowly!
Now you have the okay to start running with your pup, but remember, they are not machines! Just as humans start slow, dogs need to work into longer runs. Start running short distances, or do run/walk drills. Slowly work your way up to the mileage you want to be running. Remember to take your dog’s size and breed into account. A Yorkie isn’t cut out for marathon training, but a Lab might be. Know your dog or ask your veterinarian for advice on distance!
Use the proper gear!
As a human, you most likely have running shoes, running clothes, etc. Your dog also needs proper running gear. Unless your dog is an awesome loose leash type, always run with a harness. Pulling and tugging on a collar can cause serious damage to a dog’s neck. Watch out for hot surfaces in the summer, and ice balls between the paw pads in the winter. Dog boots may be necessary. Try running hands free, you and your dog will love it. Even the biggest pullers run reasonably as your core puts the brakes on pulling. Your core is so much stronger than your arms will ever be!
Most of all, have fun! Mom says nothing is better than running with dogs! See how happy Bailie and Madison are on Madison’s first run with the team!