Now that the snow has melted (err… was melted) I can finally easily run with Lulu and envision racing again with her this spring. Last May we ran a 5K race together and it worked out really well. Right now is an ideal time to start prepping your pup for a spring race. Here are some of my tips to get you and Fido going!
How to Prepare Your Dog for a Race
- Start small. Even though many dogs are born athletes, your pet should slowly train and increase distance, just as you would for a race. Depending on your pet’s fitness level this might take some time. If you have any questions or concerns please consult your veterinarian for an overall fitness reading on your pet.
- Pay attention to your dog while you are running. Is she panting? Is he lagging behind? These might be signs your dog is thirsty or already tired. Take it easy and be patient with your furry friend.
- Consider your dog’s breed. Some dogs are meant to run long distances. Huskies anyone? My Lulu (a Lhasa Apso mix) really is not a racing-type dog but I have found given her age and energy level she can run up to 5 miles with me. I’m also a slow runner and she does best when it’s not hot out. I would not run 5 miles with her in July!
- Train your dog to “loose leash” walk. This has truly made walking and running with my dog so much more enjoyable. And when it comes to racing you might be a hazard if your dog is pulling you down the street or generally “out of control.” I would love to see race organizers to continue embracing pet-friendly events. Polite, well-trained pups are part of this privilege.
- Consider all race logistics and plan ahead. For me this meant bringing a water supply and bowl for Lulu. It also meant making sure she had an opportunity to relieve herself pre-race and in a discreet area. We also showed up extra early so she could get comfortable with her surroundings. I already know Lulu was not socialized well with other dogs before we adopted her. Because of this, I kept a safe distance between her and other dogs when we arrived at the 5K. The last thing I wanted was to cause a barking scene.
For a list of some local Cleveland dog-friendly races visit my post from last year. I plan to update it again soon and will republish it when I do. Also, here are some other websites with good information about racing with your dog: Runner’s World, Pooch to 5K, Dogs in the CLE.